Ugás uses precise, effective blows to earn win over Pacquiao
LAS VEGAS — Although Manny Pacquiao hasn’t decided what his future holds, the eight-division world champion realizes his 26-year professional boxing career might have ended Saturday night with a disheartening loss.
Yordenis Ugás is only seven years younger than the Filipino senator, yet he’s just getting started after seizing this improbable opportunity to knock off one of the greats.
Ugás beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision in Las Vegas, putting on an impressive technical performance on 11 days’ notice and retaining his WBA welterweight title.
“He’s a great competitor, but I came in here to show I am the champion of the WBA,” Ugás said. “A lot of respect for him, but I won this fight.”
Ugás (27-4) capitalized on this chance as the late injury replacement for Errol Spence Jr.. The Cuban veteran was slightly better than Pacquiao (67-8-2) throughout one of the most frustrating fights in the 42-year-old Filipino senator’s career.
The 35-year-old Ugás threw roughly half as many punches as Pacquiao, but his blows were more precise and more effective. Pacquiao was the solid favorite before the bout, but he struggled to get inside on Ugás’ effective jab while Ugás landed his right hand to increasing effect in the later rounds.
“I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today,” Ugás said through a translator. “We only had two weeks of training, but I listened to my corner and it all worked out.”
Two judges scored it 116-112 for Ugás, and a third had it 115-113. The Associated Press also scored it 116-112 for Ugás.
A visibly disappointed Pacquiao said he hasn’t decided whether he will fight again after an unimpressive performance in his return from the longest layoff of his quarter-century in the sport. He also wouldn’t confirm whether he will enter the Philippines’ presidential race, as is widely expected. He intends to make an announcement next month.
“Let me rest first before my family and I make a decision,” Pacquiao said.
The victory was the culmination of a lengthy journey for Ugás, who defected from Cuba two years after winning a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics. Ugás quit boxing for two years midway through the last decade, but revitalized his career and then capitalized on this golden chance by earning his 12th victory in his last 13 fights.
Ugás was in the spotlight only because Spence was forced to drop out last week after discovering he had a torn retina during a pre-fight physical. Ugás had been booked for a bout on the undercard, but he jumped at the type of showcase and payday that had been just out of reach ever since he left Cuba on a small boat bound for Mexico 11 years ago.
T-Mobile Arena appeared to be essentially sold out despite the late opponent change, and the crowd of 17,438 was vocally behind its Filipino hero. Even after a lengthy layoff in the last stages of his career, Pacquiao remains a surefire draw and a bankable star in a sport lacking both at its highest levels.
Ugás had a clear game plan on short notice, working hard in the early rounds with an effective jab and body shots. Pacquiao was more aggressive and occasionally got the crowd to its feet with combinations, but Ugás’ rangy jab stymied him.
Ugás’ confidence grew in the middle rounds, and he responded to some action at the seventh-round bell with a defiant shimmy-shake of his shoulders in Pacquiao’s direction. Pacquiao constantly threw more punches than Ugás, but they landed about the same number as Ugás showed off his defense and accuracy against Pacquiao’s activity.
Pacquiao caught Ugás with a combination in the 10th round and knocked him back as the crowd rose in excitement, but Ugás recovered and rallied with big shots. Ugás also looked sharp in the 12th round, peppering Pacquiao all the way to the final bell.
Pacquiao had won three straight bouts since July 2017, but he hadn’t fought since beating Keith Thurman in 2019 to win the WBA welterweight title.
That belt belonged to Ugás by the time Pacman returned: While Pacquiao’s political career and the pandemic kept him out of the ring in 2020, the WBA took away the belt and awarded it to Ugás, who had won a different version of the belt in the WBA’s byzantine championship system.
The WBA’s decision irked Pacquiao, who held various welterweight belts for a decade after he first moved up to 147 pounds in 2009 and stopped Miguel Cotto in arguably his single greatest performance.
On the undercard of Ugás’ victory at T-Mobile Arena, Robert Guerrero returned from a 23-month ring absence with a unanimous decision over fellow veteran Victor Ortiz, winning 96-94 on all three cards.
The 38-year-old Guerrero (37-6-1) had a strong second round and persevered with a high punch volume to beat the 34-year-old Ortiz (32-7-3), who hadn’t fought in 42 months. Ortiz was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault in 2018, but the charges were dismissed late last year.
Filipino featherweight Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) also preserved his unbeaten record with a dramatic 10th-round knockout of Julio Ceja, who was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards.
Ugás celebrates his victory over Pacquiao via unanimous decision
Pacquiao says he didn’t adjust early enough and his legs were tight during loss
Yordenis Ugás scores a massive upset over Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision
The official scores are in.
Yordenis Ugás scores a massive upset over Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision with scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112 to retain his WBA title.
It was a close fight, but the right guy won.
Round 12: Ugás surges early and Pacquiao tries to mount a late rally
Round 12: Ugás batters Pacquiao with two straight shots that forces the Filipino to stumble. Pacquiao marches forward and Ugás bullies him back in return. Ugás is catching Pacquiao with more power this round.
Pacquiao peppers Ugás, but the Cuban is unfazed. Pacquiao goes for broke to finish the fight, but it may have been two little too late. We might have an Ugás upset once the scorecards are read.
Round 11: Ugás continues patiently working, hoping to pull off an upset
Round 11: Ugás continues to be patient against Pacquiao. Perhaps he feels he has the fight in the bag?
Continuing a theme that has extended all night, Pacquiao puts the pressure on and Ugás catches him hard and clean with well-timed punches.
Pacquiao appears defeated and begins to wail away. We could be three minutes away from a massive upset.
Round 10: Pacquiao lands hard early punch, but doesn’t follow it up
Round 10: Pacquiao rattles Ugás for the first time in the fight with a hard left hand and the crowd erupts. Pacquiao does not do too much to follow it up, however.
Pacquiao fans have not had much to get excited about tonight. The pace of the fight is atypical of past performances. Could Father Time have finally caught up with Pacquiao?
Ugás again catches Pacquiao with a hard right. Pacquiao seemingly needs to sweep the last two wounds to make a strong case as the victor of the match.
Round 9: Fatigue sets in for both aging fighters during slowest round of bout
Round 9: Pacquiao falls for the second time in the fight, but again it’s ruled a slip.
At this point, both fighters are not letting their hands go as frequently as they did in the first half of the fight. The 35-year-old Ugás is no spring chicken himself.
Another close round to score — the slowest one so far. Perhaps fatigue may be factoring in. Pacquiao has not fought in 25 months.
Round 8: Pacquiao delivers late wave of punches as score cards likely remain close
Round 8: Mostly every time Pacquiao reaches in with a punch, Ugás makes him pay with a hard counter. Ugás works the body with a hard jab that stops Pacquiao in his tracks. He continues to hit paydirt with counters and frustrates the Filipino Senator to close the round.
Pacquiao ends the round trying to steal it by throwing punches in bunches. The fight must be razor-close on the cards — either 4-4 or a tossup at 5-3 in rounds.
Round 7: Ugás packs more power, but Pacquiao delivers steady punches
Round 7: Pacquiao kicks off the first minute of the round with a five-punch combination. Ugás immediately counters with a half-hearted uppercut that does no damage.
The two are standing in the middle of the ring, and it is abundantly clear by now that Ugás packs the more powerful punch. But he is not taking any risks. The lack of output might bite him back if the fight goes to the scorecards, which is looking highly likely at this point.
Pacquiao is not doing anything magnificent to make his case, either.
Round 6: Bolstered by rowdy crowd, Pacquiao picks up pace
Round 6: Pacquiao swings and misses violently and Ugás catches him with a right counter. Now it is Pacquiao picking his punches, and the crowd is compelled to roar his name to give him a boost.
It must have done the job, as Pacquiao picks up the pace. Ugás is demanding respect by a long and thudding jab that is disrupting Pacquiao’s game plan. It’s beginning to get really interesting as the second half of the fight begins.
Round 5: Both fighters confident as bout remains close
Round 5: Pacquiao’s hand speed is still there, but perhaps his fleet feet have lost a step, as he is a bit more stationary than ever before. Ugás is catching Pacquiao with counter rights whenever he pleases.
The round ends in a furious finish as Pacquiao walks back to his corner confident of his output with a pep in his step. Ugás is very much in the fight and could score an upset in what’s been a 50-50 fight so far.
Round 4: Ugás reprimanded for low blow, fight remains tight
Round 4: Ugás is admonished by the referee for a low blow, but he remains composed on the big stage. The bout drew an announced crowd of 17,438. The pace reverts back to a more tense one as seen in Round 2.
Pacquiao must have felt Ugás’ power, as he isn’t leaping in with combinations as he’s done in previous rounds. Both fighters are landing punches tit-for-tat in a close fight so far.
Ugás has thrown 131 jabs through the fight so far compared to 92 from Pacquiao.
Round 3: Pacquiao rallies, landing a flurry of punches
Round 3: Pacquiao rebounds in the third to kick the fight into second gear, leaping in to land several flurries against Ugás. In what’s been the theme of the night so far however, the Cuban is landing the more crisp and compact punches — one at a time — and stopping Pacquiao in his tracks.
The Filipino edges the round, albeit closely.
Round 2: Ugás lands more punches, earns early edge through two frames
Round 2: The taller Ugás starts the round with a chopping left hand. The two are establishing the jab, but the bigger Ugás seems to be the much harder puncher. Pacquiao must have felt the power, because he’s not unleashing combinations as he did in Round 1.
Ugás catches Pacquiao coming in with well-timed rights. It’s one punch at a time for Ugás, who takes Round 2 and has out-landed Pacquiao 29 to 20 through the first two frames.
Round 1: Pacquiao and Ugás trade jabs in front of rowdy crowd
ROUND 1: Chants of “Manny! Manny!” reverberate throughout the T-Mobile Arena as the pro-Pacquiao crowd amps up the all-time Filipino legend.
Pacquiao starts off the round with blistering combinations within the first 30 seconds and gets Ugás’ immediate respect. Ugás counters with a perfectly timed uppercut. He follows with a hard right, but it’s one punch at a time. Pacquiao is pressing the issue with feints and by letting his pouches go in packs.
Ugás ends the round with a few jabs. Pacquiao falls, but it’s ruled a slip by referee Russell Mora.
Robert Guerrero beats Victor Ortiz via unanimous decision in battle between former world champions
LAS VEGAS — Long past their primes, former Floyd Mayweather Jr. foes Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero provided plenty of back and forth action in the start of their fight, but they tired toward the end as age and inactivity kicked in.
The busier Guerrero (37-6-1, 20 KOs) proved he had a tad more left in the tank, edging Ortiz (32-7-3, 25 KOs) via unanimous decision via scores of 96-94 from all three judges in the co-main event fight on the card headlined by Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugás on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.
The 38-year-old former three-division champion Guerrero was coming off a two-year layoff. Ortiz, 34, had not fought in more than three years.
Although the fight took place 10 years too late, it was still an entertaining scrap fought mostly at close range — at least in the first half of their 10-round bout.
Guerrero outlanded Ortiz in total punches, 142 to 127. Guerrero threw 650 punches compared to 403 from Ortiz.
A clash of heads cut former 147-pound titleholder Ortiz’s right eye in the third. By the sixth stanza, Guerrero’s left eye was semi-shut as well.
Both wounded fighters stood shoulder to shoulder at times and traded away, but the action slowed down a notch by the seventh and the anxious crowd started booing.
The pace slowed down even more in the eighth, as fatigue set in, and the boos grew louder as they traded punches one shot at a time in drawn-out sequences.
A live shot of Pacquiao in the locker room picked up the spirits in the stadium as Guerrero closed out the show.
The main event is up next.
Pacquiao protégé Mark Magsayo scores KO of Julio Ceja during close bout
LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao protégé Mark Magsayo’s childhood dream was to fight on the undercard of the Filipino icon.
The Pacquiao-promoted Magsayo had his championship dreams come true Saturday night, scoring a resounding knockout against former world champion Julio Ceja in their WBC featherweight title eliminator fight.
Magsayo’s crushing blows came at 50 seconds of Round 10 and it left Ceja dazed on the canvas for an extended period of time. The devastating finish was set up with a straight right hand and right cross that floored Ceja in a close and competitive fight.
The pro-Pacquiao crowd erupted in celebration supporting undefeated countryman Magsayo, who improved to 23-0 with 16 KOs. The hard-hitting Ceja dropped to 34-5-1 (28 KOs).
Magsayo and Ceja both traded knockdowns in a close fight during which Ceja was arguably ahead due to a relentless attack to the body. Before the bruising battle suddenly ended, Ceja looked stronger in stretches and out-landed Magsayo 163 to 158.
Magsayo had many good moments as well, scoring a knockdown 30 seconds into the first round with a vicious left hook.
Ceja was rocked but never really hurt, as he rebounded and landed 12 punches of his own in the opening frame, compared to 18 by Magsayo.
Ceja showed his spirit in the second with a come-forward attack that stopped any Magsayo’s momentum.
The Freddie Roach-trained Magsayo made it a firefight but lacked very little head movement and paid for it in the fifth when he was floored for the second time in his career by a right uppercut and left hook combo from Ceja. In total, Ceja outlanded Magsayo 19 to 4 in the round and was saved by the bell.
Ceja outlanded Magsayo 72 to 16 via body shots through six rounds in what had to that point been a split-even fight.
Ceja continued hitting paydirt in the second half of the fight on Magsayo by bludgeoning the body, landing 95 total, but it was Magsayo’s head-hunting strategy of 135 accumulated punches that ultimately stopped his opponent.
Carlos Castro kicks off Pacquiao vs. Ugás with 10th round KO over Oscar Escandón
LAS VEGAS — Carlos Castro kicked off the pay-per-view portion of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugás card and continued his streak as an undefeated fighter with a spirited contest that mirrored a back and forth war at times against Oscar Escandón.
Castro (26-0, 12 KOs), an 11-to1 favorite from Phoenix, scored a knockdown in the seventh and a final one in the tenth and final round at the 1:08 mark to put away Escandón (26-6, 18 KOs) once and for all in their featherweight fight.
Castro landed a total of 229 punches, per CompuBox, and Escandón countered with 142, many of which did damage as well.
Castro landed an average of 23 of 65 punches per round.
The final 13 combinations punches Castro landed in the 10th proved to be most pivotal, staggering Escandón in the ropes before he took a spill to the canvas.
After starting his count, referee Celestino Ruiz deemed Escandón unfit to continue and waved off the fight.
Boxing experts make their picks for Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugás
Ahead of Saturday night’s Manny Pacquiao-Yordenis Ugás fight, the Los Angeles Times canvassed a nationwide group of boxing experts for their analysis of the welterweight bout, which is expected to begin around 8:30 PT.
You can follow The Times’ coverage throughout the evening on its live blog.
How the experts see it:
“Here’s the thing about when fighters turn old: You never know when it’s going to happen. Just because Manny Pacquiao hasn’t looked ancient in any of his previous 71 fights doesn’t mean it won’t happen on Saturday night. He is 42 after all. And, really, that’s what this fight will come down to, whether Pacquiao has slowed just enough to where he can no longer exploit the openings offered to him by Yordenis Ugás. And there will be openings. Ugás won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics but doesn’t have the style for which products of Cuba’s vaunted amateur program are known. Ugás loops his right hand. He exposes his chin, both when he throws his jab and leans back to avoid punches.
“Ugás has an interesting backstory, telling me earlier this week about how he was disillusioned after failing to win gold at the Beijing Games and decided soon after that he would escape from Cuba. He spent two days at sea on a motorboat, reaching Mexico, then traveling to the United States. He didn’t see his mother for nine years, reuniting with her on a visit to his home country, then again in Panama. One of his best friends is New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, with whom he traveled for international competitions. My guess is his fairy tale ends here, with Pacquiao ambushing him early, and either stopping him or scoring a comfortable decision. Pacquiao by seventh-round knockout.”
— Dylan Hernandez, Times sports columnist
Fast facts: How Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugás match up
Residence: General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines
Record: 62-7-2, 39 KOs
Total rounds boxed: 486
Height: 5 foot 5 ½ inches
Arm reach: 67 inches
Key stats: Eight-division world champion; wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Jessie Vargas, Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios.
Twice beaten Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez (also one loss, one draw), Erik Morales (one loss) and Timothy Bradley (one loss).
Pacquiao lost via unanimous decision against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in boxing’s most lucrative fight of all time in 2015.
Residence: Miami (via Cuba)
Record: 26-4, 12 KOs
Total rounds boxed: 196
Nickname: 54 Milagros
Height: 5 foot 9 inches
Arm reach: 69 inches
Key stats: WBA welterweight champion; 2008 Olympics bronze medalist for Cuba; won 12 consecutive national championships ; wins over Abel Ramos, Mike Dallas Jr., Omar Figueroa Jr., Ray Robinson, Thomas Dulorme and Jamal James.
Losses to Shawn Porter, Amir Imam, Emanuel Robles and Johnny Garcia.
Start time and how to watch Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugás
If you’re not in Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao take on Yordenis Ugás at T-Mobile Arena, the pay-per-view, which begins airing at 6 p.m. PT, can be ordered through FOX Sports and FITE for $74.99.
Joe Hand Promotions also provides a list of local bars and restaurants that should be carrying the event throughout the country.
The co-main event for the fight card features a 10-round welterweight scrap between former champions Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz. Guerrero, 38, and Ortiz, 34, are both well past their prime;
Guerrero has not fought in nearly two years, while Ortiz’s layoff is at 3 ½ years. Both boxers are former Floyd Mayweather Jr. foes.
“I feel the same, it’s like I never left,” said Ortiz. “I made a promise to my babies: I’m going to reign for a decade. I’m back.”
In other action on the PPV card, unbeaten contender and Pacquiao-protege Mark Magsayo and former world champion Julio Ceja will meet in a WBC featherweight title eliminator.
The PPV show will kick off when Carlos Castro and former title challenger Óscar Escandón fight in a 10-round featherweight match.
Betting odds for Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugás
Manny Pacquiao went from a betting underdog versus Errol Spence Jr. to a favorite to win against late replacement opponent Yordenis Ugás after an eye injury forced Spence to pull out of the fight last week.
Here’s how the sportsbook at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is presenting the betting odds for the fight.
Pacquiao is listed as a -375 favorite while Ugás is a +295 underdog.