By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
CUBAN Yordenis “54 Milagros” Ugas defeated Filipino boxing legend Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao by unanimous decision in their World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title clash on Sunday (Manila time) in a fight that had the former taking full advantage of the opportunity given to him, one local fight analyst said.
Mr. Ugas, 35, retained his WBA title by dominating Mr. Pacquiao, 42, in their 12-round collision at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112.
For analyst Nissi Icasiano, the Cuban champion was deserving of the victory and should be given props for coming out with a solid game plan despite being a replacement opponent on an 11-day notice and proving his doubters wrong.
“They say opportunity knocks only once in your life. For Yordenis Ugas, he saw that opportunity in the form of Manny Pacquiao,” said Mr. Icasiano in an online interview with BusinessWorld.
“It’s not every day you would get a chance to fight a future Hall-of-Famer, an eight-division world champion and probably one of the best — if not the best boxer to ever lace up a pair of gloves. Ugas had one shot. He grabbed it,” he added.
Mr. Ugas took the place of original Pacquiao opponent Errol Spence, Jr. (out with an eye injury) a fortnight ago and while he is the champion, not many gave him the chance against WBA welterweight champion in recess Mr. Pacquiao, including Mr. Icasiano.
“He (Ugas) surprised many and proved critics wrong, including yours truly, by beating Manny Pacquiao. What’s commendable is that he came in very prepared despite the 11-day notice,” the analyst said.
“What I can’t fully wrap my head around is the fact that he compelled Manny Pacquiao to fight at his own pace, using a simple strategy: keeping his jabs busy and targeting the body with a right straight… He could have traded fire with fire. But no, he chose to stick to his game plan,” Mr. Icasiano added.
Statistics would later show that Mr. Ugas had his way, and did not allow Mr. Pacquiao to get much headway.
As per CompuBox data, the WBA champion landed more total punches 151 to Mr. Pacquiao’s 130 and with more efficiency, 37% to 16%; connected 21% (50-of-234) of his jabs to Mr. Pacquiao’s nine percent (42-of-475); and landed power punches better 59% (101-of-171) to 26% (88-of-340).
While Mr. Pacquiao shared after that he experienced cramps for much of the contest that had his legs tightening and limiting his movement, he, however, did not use it as an excuse and said Mr. Ugas was a deserving winner.
“It may sound too cliche, but it’s true everything happens for a reason. All the stars and all the dots lined up for him (Ugas) to be in that position and experience that glorious moment,” Mr. Icasiano said.
“Yordenis Ugas arrived in style. Not all boxers can say that they had their coming-out party at the expense of a revered boxing legend like Manny Pacquiao,” he added.
As to Mr. Pacquiao, the analyst said he thinks it is not yet over for the Filipino legend, although he added if Pacman does call it quits after his last fight, it will be well and good.
“For Manny, he’s not as old as people say. He had a good first round, to be honest. He also landed a good left in the same round, wherein Ugas acknowledged it by smiling. The right hand of Ugas wasn’t able to stagger Manny. He made a great effort by at least changing the complexion of the fight, inviting Ugas to a toe-to-toe… For a 42-year-old boxer, to have that kind of work rate in the ring, it’s still impressive,” he said.
“I don’t see him walking away from the sport just like that. If he decides to fight again at least to give him a proper send-off, the two possible opponents that Manny Pacquiao could consider are Robert Guerrero and Abel Ramos. Those two boxers won’t be a nightmare for him stylistically.”