Even though he's 42, a Manny Pacquiao fight is still one of the most exciting events in sports. The boxing icon likely has a limited number of in-ring appearances left, and he will make one of them Saturday night against Yordenis Ugas at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
In an age of boxing wherein older fighters are putting on sideshow fights against fellow over-the-hill legends or YouTube stars, it's refreshing to see Pacquiao still challenging active boxers.
His sights were set even higher. He was scheduled to fight star welterweight Errol Spence Jr., but a torn retina saw the American pull out of the fight. While that matchup is still possible down the line, Pac-Man will now face a former Olympian in Ugas with the WBA (super) welterweight title on the line.
Pacquiao would have been the underdog in a fight with Spence, but he has shifted to favorite status against the Cuban. Here's a look at the latest odds before we examine some of the predictions being made leading into this pay-per-view fight.
Fight Schedule and Odds
Date: Saturday, Aug. 21
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Start time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: Fox PPV
Odds: Manny Pacquiao: -430 (bet $430 to win $100) vs. Yordenis Ugas: +290 (bet $100 to win $290)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Pacquiao might not be the same ferocious puncher who became the only man to win titles in eight divisions, but he's still a huge draw. Any time he is getting ready to fight, there are plenty of opinions about the outcome, and this fight is no different.
Looking across the landscape of experts making picks, the question isn't whether Pacquiao will win but whether it will go to the scorecards or be a knockout.
One of the more rosy outlooks for Ugas comes from Mark Lelinwalla of DAZN. He projects a split-decision win for Pac-Man.
Lelinwalla noted that both men are taking the fight on short notice before giving some insight into why the legend will have the slight edge: "While I see Pacquiao having to overcome several rough patches due to Ugas' rugged and durable style, I believe the boxing legend banks enough rounds with his bouncy, rhythmic movement and ultra-quick hands."
Ugas is capable of muddying the waters. He has a strong jab and is a decent counterpuncher. Throw in his orthodox stance while Pacquiao has been preparing for a southpaw in Spence, and there's an argument to be made that the favorite might not be as well prepared as usual.
Juan Manuel Marquez, who has some experience with Pacquiao, sees Ugas' greatest advantage being his movement, telling ESPN: "He must do what he does best, move his waist, counterpunch and keep Manny away—something that he can accomplish if he uses his height and reach advantages. Ugas' speed is key."
Ultimately, those tools might not matter. Pacquiao's straightforward punches are difficult to evade on a consistent basis, and he brings plenty of speed and power to the table, even at his age.
Bleacher Report's Tom Taylor sees Pacquiao having more than enough tools to overcome the height and reach advantages Ugas has as well as any work he might be able to get in off the jab.
"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," Taylor wrote.
Taylor also noted that Ugas doesn't have the kind of power necessary to threaten Pacquiao at range. He's only scored 12 knockouts in 26 wins.
The last time we saw Pacquiao in the ring in July 2019 was in a split-decision win over Keith Thurman in which he didn't seem to lose too much off his fastball. He still had quick and powerful hands. That's why some experts are seeing a finish for Pacquiao.
Antonio Margarito, who lost to Pacquiao in 2010, offered some insight into his former opponent's tools before predicting that the legend will finish Ugas, telling ESPN: "Pacquiao's uppercut swelled my eye and hurt me, but that's not the only punch Pacquiao throws with power, and that power is going to be the key. Either the uppercut, the overhead left, the straight, the right hand—Pacquiao doesn't stop throwing punches, and it's the accumulation of punches that hurts you."
Those are all great points, and Margarito certainly has the experience to back it up. On paper, this looks like a fight that Pacquiao will win as long as his skills haven't eroded in a major way. However, Ugas has proved to be a tough and durable fighter, and he will be motivated to try to make a name off this fight.
Prediction: Pacquiao via decision.
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