Prior to last week, I had not heard of the name “Yordenis Ugas.” I doubt it if you, too, are familiar with the 5-foot-9 Cuban. And though he’s the reigning WBA welterweight champ, his 26-4 win-loss record is paltry — at least compared to Manny Pacquiao’s career that encompasses 71 fights (62 wins, 39 by knockout).
Ugas will lose.
No expert or enthusiast gives the former Olympic bronze medalist a chance. Ugas is 35 years old and barely won via split decision in Sept. 2020 against Abel Ramos. If you study the opponents of Ugas, none are big-names except Shawn Porter — whom he lost to in March 2019.
Pacquiao will win. But let’s backtrack a little...
This wasn’t the prediction just 12 days ago.
Errol Spence Jr., in a shocking announcement, withdrew from the bout because of an eye injury.
I asked top ophthalmologist Dr. Ronnie Medalle about Spence’s injury, described as a “retina detachment/break,” and the good doctor says it’s serious and can be career-ending — especially for one whose nature of work involves the eye repeatedly getting hit.
Had it been Pacquiao-Spence, our man would have lost — that’s my view and the opinion of pundits. The oddsmakers did, too, installing Spence the -210 favorite while Pacquiao was the +170 underdog.
Spence is in-his-prime 31 years young versus the 42 years-too-old Philippine legislator. The New Yorker sports a 27-0 record (21 by KO).
In comparison, today’s fight has Ugas as the +275 underdog and Pacquiao as the -360 favorite.
Speaking of odds, what were the odds that Spence would back out just two weeks prior to the biggest fight of his career?
What a stroke of good luck for Pacman.
On “good luck,” Pacquiao’s first/biggest moment happened 20 years ago. He was then a skinny 22-year-old who trained as a walk-in at Freddie Roach’s gym. The reigning champ Lehlo Ledwaba was set to face Enrique Sanchez before the Mexican withdrew because of an injury before their June 23, 2001 bout.
Note: Like Spence, he withdrew two weeks prior to the fight.
2001 like 2021?
Pacquiao was called in as a last-minute replacement and — starting his good luck-charmed career — TKO’d the South African in the sixth round. (Sad news on Ledwaba: he died of Covid last month.)
Since that “good luck” moment in 2001, MP has earned billions of pesos and is the sport’s only eight-division world champ.
Let’s recap the two scenarios:
Pacquiao fights Spence in a bloody skirmish, losing the bout via knockout or split decision. The 42-year-old senator, all-bruised, announces his retirement upon his arrival in Manila. This pitiful ending does not bode well for his chances in the 2022 elections.
The “good luck” scenario: Spence backs out two weeks before Aug. 22 and is replaced by a 35-year-old... whom Pacquiao handily beats in a unanimous decision. This heroic feat earns Pacquiao worldwide adulation... and he carries this momentum... with possibly a shot at becoming the 17th Philippine president?
Said the Dalai Lama: Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.