Arum: Ugás tough nut for Pacquiao


LAS VEGAS, Nevada—The odds favor Manny Pacquiao—and so do his millions of fans—when the fighting senator goes after the World Boxing Association welterweight belt that used to be his against Cuban titleholder Yordenis Ugás on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pacquiao, as of Monday, was a -380 favorite over Ugás.

But Top Rank chief Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s former long-time promoter, sees it otherwise.

“It will be a difficult fight for Manny [Pacquiao] because Ugás is a defensive fighter,” Arum told BusinessMirror on Monday. “Ugás is more of a defensive tactical fighter, and remember he is a Cuban.”

Arum said that the 42-year-old former eight-division champion Pacquiao had a better chance against original opponent, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. compared with the 35-year-old Ugás (26-4 win-loss record with 12 knockouts).

“I give my better chance against Spence because I think he [Pacquiao] might have been too quick for Spence and Spence doesn’t rely on defense that much, while Ugás is a defensive fighter,” Arum said. “He will fight Manny in the distance and it will take away Manny’s strength.”

Spence, unbeaten in 27 fights with 21 knockouts, was forced to pull out from the “legacy fight” against Pacquiao (62-7-2 record with 39 knockouts) because of a damaged retina in his left eye, giving opportunity for Ugas to stake the belt the WBA stripped from Pacquiao last January 30 because of the Filipino’s ring inactivity for more than a year.

He clarified though that at the end of the day, Pacquiao will always be his man in any fight.

“My man will always be Manny but again, I think it’s going to be a difficult fight for Manny—very, very difficult  and you know the Cuban’s defensive style,” Arum said, noting it’s going to be tough for Pacquiao to get a knockout win.

“Not that he could not do it [knockout] and I am always rooting for it. I always hope that he can but he is going to have a difficult time,” Arum said. “But Manny will always be Manny and he has been in many difficult fights before.”

Pacquiao last fought July 20, 2019, winning via a split decision over Keith Thurman to snatch the world. welterweight crown.

Pacquiao admitted that he sees a semblance of who he was 20 years ago ahead of the Ugás fight.

“I am not taking him for granted. In fact I am taking him as seriously as I took Errol Spence,” Pacquiao said. “I will not make the same mistake [Lehlo] Ledwaba did when he fought me.”

Ledwaba wasn’t the same again after that loss to Pacquiao and retired in 2006. He died in June from Covid-19 complications.

“[Yordenis] Ugás in a similar situation,” said Pacquiao, who owns a 62-7-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts

“He is ready to make the most of this opportunity,” Pacquiao said. “I know what Ugás’s feeling because 20 years ago, I was Ugás.”

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