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Monday, April 15, 2024

What now Manny?

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada—The legs weren’t there, and so were the killer punches that earned him world titles in eight different divisions.

But Manny Pacquiao, who had to deal with what could be the last fight of his illustrious career, just won’t say—for now—if he’s hanging up his gloves, thus leaving two decades of boxing that made him one of the sport’s living legends, or he’s up to joining the presidential race back home.

“I need to relax with my family and then make a decision,” Pacquiao told the post-fight interview minutes after losing to a younger and more composed Cuban Yordenis Ugás who kept his World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.

The first-term senator also said that he will announce his political plans, particularly running for the presidency in next May’s general elections back home, in a month’s time.

It wasn’t the same old Pacquiao who fought before a crowd of 17,438—majority of who cheered for him—and the millions who watched on TV all of the world anymore.

He fought impressively in the early rounds, landing some solid punches, but Ugás didn’t budge.

The Cuban’s orthodox style was effective against what was once the aggressive style Pacquiao regaled the world with, connecting with precision against the Filipino icon who had trouble with his opponent’s longer reach.

“I a hard time inside the ring, making adjustments about body style and I think that’s the problem for me because I didn’t make adjustments right away, my legs were also tight,” said Pacquiao, who at 42 just couldn’t get his classic form back.
“Yes, my legs are so tight, that’s why it’s very hard to move,” he added. “But I’m not complaining.”

Ugás, three-inch taller than Pacquiao, relied on his long reach in the final round to make his victory more convincing.

Patricia Morse Jarman, Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored the fight 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112, respectively, all in favor of Ugás, who the WBA named champion last January after stripping Pacquiao of the belt because of “inactivity.”

“Manny had trouble reaching  Ugás. He wasn’t able to solve Ugás’s height and reach advantage,” Freddie Roach, now Pacquiao’s chief consultant, said.

Ugás’s strategy was so effective particularly in the middle rounds when he attacked Pacquiao’s body and countered whatever the Filipino threw at him.

In the eighth round, Pacquiao engaged Ugás with a searing exchange to draw a loud cheer from the live fans, but the 35-year-old Cuban, a Beijing 2008 Olympics bronze medalist, was quick to parry all punches while countering with his own to pile up points.

Ugás may have been vicious and lethal in the ring, but showed respect to Pacquiao after the final bell and embraced the Filipino legend.

“I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for sharing the ring with me. He’s a legend, one of the greatest fighters that ever lived,” Ugás said. “I’ll always respect him not only as a great fighter, but outside the ring. I also admire that he fights for his country as I do. I want to free Cuba.”

Ugás improved to 27-5 win-loss record with 12 knockouts.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, fell to 62-8-2 win-loss-draw record with 39 knockouts. His last defeat came in July 2017 in Brisbane, Australia, where he lost to hometown bet Jeff Horn via controversial unanimous decision.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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