Change of plans


FILIPINO boxing icon Manny Pacquiao tinkered with his fight plan 10 days before he faces Yordenis Ugás for the Cuban’s World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight belt on August 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 42-year-old Pacquiao immediately sought right-handed sparring partners, assuring in a virtual news conference organized by the Premier Boxing Champions on Thursday that he sees no problem adjusting his strategy on “short notice.”

“I’m not disappointed at all in what happened because my hard work will not be wasted,” Pacquiao said. “Ugás stepped in and he’s bringing his WBA championship into the fight, which I’m excited to fight for.”

Ugás was tapped to replace Pacquiao’s original opponent, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., who underwent surgery to repair a retinal tear in his left eye on Wednesday.

Spence is a southpaw while Ugás, a Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, is an orthodox right-hander.

“I always consider myself a bipartisan boxer,” Pacquiao said. “I am happy to face either right-handed or southpaw fighters.”

Pacquiao arrived in the US from Manila on July 5 and immediately bucked down to his training camp at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles the next day. He has trained for a left-handed opponent since then.

“It’s no problem for me at all to switch styles,” Pacquiao said. “I did my best in training and in preparing for this fight. I want to make sure my hard work’s not wasted.”

Pacquiao (62-7-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts) expects Ugás (26-4 with 12 knockouts) to prove himself as a deserving opponent and world champion.

“What I can say to the fans is that this is definitely not an easy fight. Ugás is a champion because they [WBA] gave him my belt,” Pacquiao said. “Now, we have to settle it inside of the ring. I cannot take him lightly, because he’s the kind of fighter who will take advantage of that.”

Pacquiao’s long-time orthodox sparring partner, Arnold Gonzalez, has gotten the call and is expected in Los Angeles on Monday.

“The only danger for this fight is the change in stance,” Pacquiao said. “Both Spence and Ugás are aggressive fighters, which I like. We can create a lot of great action in the ring that the fans will love.”

This will be Pacquiao’s first fight since beating Keith Thurman in July 2019 via split decision also in Las Vegas.

Ugás, on the other hand, last fought and beat American Abel Ramos via split decision last September 6 in Los Angeles. He told the same online news conference that he’s very excited to face Pacquiao.

“I’m feeling great and super excited to fight on this big stage. I’m ready to go get in the ring. I couldn’t be more excited for this fight,” Ugás said through an interpreter.”

Ugás said being a replacement fighter is nothing new to him.

“I’m used to taking fights on the last minute. It’s really nothing new to me,” he said. “Once I knew I was fighting Pacquiao, I got right back to work, because I’m always ready to fight anyone they put in front of me.”

Image courtesy of Wendell Alinea

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