Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugas: B/R Staff Predictions

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2021

Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugas: B/R Staff Predictions

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    It's been a whirlwind 10 days for Yordenis Ugas.

    The 35-year-old Cuban was prepping for an undercard bout alongside Manny Pacquiao's main event with Errol Spence Jr. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when he got the call of a lifetime.

    Spence was out with a torn retina.

    And Ugas, already the WBA's champion at welterweight, was in.

    "I was training like any other day on Monday and then I found out that (scheduled foe Fabian) Maidana and Spence suffered injuries at that same time," he told Bleacher Report. "Once I got the phone call with the great news, I was super excited. And now I want to prove to the world that I’m an elite champion."

    Of course, that's far easier said than done.

    Ugas will arrive Saturday night to find himself across the ring from the frenetic Filipino, who, even at age 42, remains firmly ensconced among the world's best 147-pounders in the aftermath of a clear defeat of then-unbeaten WBA kingpin Keith Thurman in 2019.

    Pacquiao was stripped of the belt due to inactivity earlier this year and it was awarded to Ugas, who's won 11 of his last 12 since returning from a two-year layoff in 2016. The only loss came via split decision in 2019 to then-WBC champ Shawn Porter—a fight Ugas, one judge and many observers thought he'd won.

    The Pacquiao date tops a Fox PPV card that'll include three other bouts and begin at 9 p.m. ET.

    "This is a fight for my legacy, and I’m going to shock the world," Ugas said. "Everyone is counting me out, but I believe in myself and I had a fantastic training camp, which gives me tremendous confidence going into this fight. There was never a hesitation taking this fight."

    It'll cost $74.99 to see how it turns out, but before you lay out cash two members of the B/R combat sports team—Tom Taylor and yours truly, Lyle Fitzsimmons—got together to predict the result.

    Take a look at what we came up with and drop a line or two with your own picks in the comments.

Tom Taylor: Pacquiao by Unanimous Decision

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    One moment Manny Pacquiao is a sizable underdog against Errol Spence Jr., the next he's a commanding favorite against Yordenis Ugas. It was a definite shakeup for the Filipino legend, but he shouldn't have too much difficulty adjusting to this new challenge.

    Ugas, the reigning WBA welterweight champ, will have a height and reach advantage in this matchup, but Pacquiao was already preparing to navigate those physical deficits against Spence, and Ugas doesn't use his physical tools particularly well anyway. Pacquiao's advantages, meanwhile, are a constant in just about every fight: speed, power, experience.

    If Ugas fights smart, Pacquiao might struggle to close the distance in the very early going, but the Filipino's footwork, awkward angles and speed will ultimately be his ticket into range. From there, it will be his fight to lose—particularly given that Ugas doesn't have much in the way of firepower, with only 12 stoppages in 26 victories.

    Ugas has never been knocked out in his 30-fight career, flaunting plenty of durability throughout. That durability will probably serve him well in this fight, but he's still unlikely to walk away with anything better than the moral victory of going the distance with a future Hall of Famer.

    Pacquiao's layoff and age admittedly provide some interesting variables, but even at 42, he's the better boxer on paper. Give me the favorite by decision.

    Prediction: Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Lyle Fitzsimmons: Pacquiao in 9

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    Kohjiro Kinno/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Yordenis Ugas is saying all the right things.

    He's coming in as a late-stage foe and seems confident that he can pull off the sort of unlikely heroics as Andy Ruiz Jr. did when he splattered Anthony Joshua two summers ago in New York.

    "I knew if I continued to work hard and continued to perform at the top level, it was only a matter of time," he told Bleacher Report. "I'm a student of the game, so I've seen him fight plenty of times. We focus on executing our game plan in the ring and will be prepared for the best version of Manny Pacquiao."

    Preparing for it and being ready for it are two different things.

    Though the Cuban export is taller, longer and younger than a foe who turned pro when Ugas was eight years old, there's no debate that Pacquiao is faster, more powerful and more familiar with the pressures of an A-side slot.

    Case in point: This'll be Pacquiao's 25th top-tier title fight.

    It's Ugas' second. And he lost the first one.

    Put all those factors together and it spells a predictable result.

    Ugas may have moments while the Filipino gathers competitive data, but it'll start to turn around the midway point as the edges in hand and foot speed become more evident. The more Pacquiao exploits those gaps, the more one-sided the combat will get, and the nearer to the end the B-side champ will find himself.

    Prediction: Pacquiao by TKO, Round 9