Philippines, 27 Mar 2023
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Pacquiao Watch: One more before curtain call

There is no arguing Manny Pacquiao will call it a day and slip into retirement with the comfort that his legacy is already cemented. If there is a Mt. Rushmore in boxing, he will definitely be among the names that will be in the thick of the conversation.

This Sunday’s nth title fight of Pacquiao against unheralded Yordenis Ugas of Cuba could be his last, depending on what happens in the next two or three months. Indeed, Pacquiao has said a couple of days ago that the Ugas could be his last.

While many would like to see Pacquiao beating younger and bigger opponents eternally, the reality is the time hang the gloves is more sooner than ever. It may come no later than a day after Sunday’s anti-climactic fight of the Filipino boxing great.

Win or lose, the Ugas fight will not significantly add or take away more from what the Filipino boxing icon has accomplished in a career that span 4 decades, 72 fights heading into Sunday’s event, 8 world boxing titles and earnings worth over a staggering half a billion dollars.

Correct me if I am wrong, but among active boxers, Pacquiao holds another distinction of fighting in four decades that began in the 1990s and is still fighting into the 22nd millennium. Even the great Muhammad Ali was not able to do that. And unless nemesis Floyd Mayweather Jr comes out of retirement and fight a real boxing match, none of Pacquiao’s boxing foes, let alone contemporaries has ever fought that long.

That should make one wonder when will these all end.

Those preliminaries put aside, what is the prognosis of Pacquiao winning tomorrow’s event versus the 5’10” Cuban exile?

Let us examine Ugas. Ugas is tall. Just a shade under Oscar dela Hoya and Antonio Margarito who both stood 5’11” against Pacquiao’s 5’5 ½”. (Yes, I am as tall as he is and weighs exactly the same, only because of by beer belly paunch. Pacquiao is all muscle with a very enviable, if non-existing, fat level)

Ugas fights to the competition. Based on his available video fights on YouTube, however, his competition does not impress. You might as well say he is as unimpressionable.

The Cuban fights small when he fought former Pacquiao boxing sparring partner Shawn Porter who, at 5’7”, stands taller than the Filipino boxing icon. That fits perfectly into Pacquiao’s advantage.

Ugas has a 2-inch advantage in reach being the taller boxer. But that won’t really count much as Pacquiao is used to fighting taller and longer fighters. In fact, since barging into the boxing limelight, the last time he fought against a boxer smaller than him was Mexican Emmanuel Lucero (remember him?). Lucero, who Pacquiao bludgeoned haplessly like a headless chicken with a single punch en route to a 3rd TKO win, was measured 5’4”.

Ugas’s jabs are average at most. His jab deliveries are almost tentative and that surely would be a perfect target for Pacquiao’s counter right hooks. Ugas likes to engage. That would be a fatal mistake against Pacquiao. He, too, has difficulties fighting on the defensive which will happen a lot of times once he is up against Pacquiao.

The Cuban’s knockout rate is very pedestrian but every boxer will have his Sunday punch. That said, Manny should not have trouble withstanding and absorbing Ugas’s punches. Unless of course Pacquiao gets careless and got caught with the overhead right of Ugas just as he fell like a fallen timber when badly beaten Marquez got him with a Hail Mary punch.

Those said, I see no reason Pacquiao will lose. But Las Vegas odds notwithstanding, there is a chance Ugas will win. A chance that is a slim as a downpour in the desert of Las Vegas during the summer. Unfortunately for Ugas, it is summer time in Las Vegas.

Good luck to him.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.

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