world boxing

Pacquiao keeps focus as Ugas replaces Spence in PPV battle

Roy Luarca
Pacquiao keeps focus as Ugas replaces Spence in PPV battle

ON TRACK. Manny Pacquiao and members of his training team run the streets of Hancock Park in Los Angeles Tuesday morning.

Wendell Alinea/MP Promotions

‘This is still a championship fight. We can't afford to lose focus,’ says Manny Pacquiao as he faces new opponent Yordenis Ugas in less than two weeks

Manny Pacquiao is not about to sulk just because he’ll be battling Yordenis Ugas instead of Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday, August 21 (Sunday, August 22, Philippine time).

For the eight-division world champion, it’s better than having no fight at all.

“I did not feel sad because everything has a purpose,” Pacquaio said in Filipino. “It’s a good thing the fight was not canceled and will go on because our efforts in training won’t go for naught.”

Pacquiao was already on the tapering stage of his preparations for his thee-belt clash with Spence when news broke out that the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation welterweight champion has withdrawn from their pay-per-view tussle after sustaining a retinal tear on the left eye and was booked for laser surgery on Wednesday.

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There’s no better substitute than Ugas, who was elevated from regular to super World Boxing Association champion after Pacquiao was unable to defend the title he won from the then-unbeaten Keith Thurman in 2019.

Pacquiao was eventually relegated to champion in recess before his fight with Spence got sealed.

Now, Pacquiao has a new motivation.

“This is still a championship fight. We can’t afford to lose focus,” said Pacquiao. “It will still be a title fight for the WBA because Ugas is the champion and he has the belt that was given to him even if we didn’t fight each other.”

And Pacquiao isn’t about to dismiss Ugas as a worthy opponent just because the Cuban’s record of 26-4 with 12 knockouts pales in comparison with Spence’s 27-0, 21 knockouts mark.

“He is in top form because he is scheduled to fight in my undercard,” said Pacquiao, referring to Ugas’ supposed title defense against Fabian Maidana, who also suffered an injury in sparring on Monday and pulled out of the Ugas fight.

Although Ugas is nearly as tall as Spence at 5-foot-9, Pacquiao and his training team have to make late adjustments because the 35-year-old from Santiago de Cuba is an orthodox fighter. Spence is a southpaw like Pacquiao.

Owing to his vast experience (62-7-2, 39 knockouts), however, Pacquiao is expected to figure out Ugas early on and win convincingly. – Rappler.com