In a change to the advertised main event, Manny Pacquaio defends his WBA ‘Super’ welterweight title inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday night against Yordenis Ugas on Sky Sports in the UK, while Fox hold the USA rights on pay-per-view.
Ugas was set to feature on this bill in any case, but he steps in for Errol Spence Jr, who has what could be a career-threatening torn retina, and he was forced to withdraw with just under two weeks until his scheduled clash with the Filipino legend.
Pacquaio (62-7-2, 39 KOs) continues to defy father time and has been resurgent since a shock July 2017 defeat in Australia to Jeff Horn, which cost the Filipino his WBO welterweight title.
A world champion in a staggering eight different weight classes, ‘Pacman’ needs no introduction, and at 42, he is firmly in the back end of his career, but continues to astonish.
His last three fights have seen a return to his brilliant best, scoring a first early win in nearly nine years in July 2018, stopping Lucas Matthysse in seven rounds to win the WBA title at ten stone seven.
He then comfortably retained against Adrien Broner via decision in January 2019, and last time out, defied age to knock down the unbeaten Keith Thurman before taking a split decision win to become ‘Super’ champion.
That was over two years ago though, so time will tell if Manny still has the old magic in his locker.
It certainly would have been put to the test against the young, hungry, and unbeaten Spence, but Pacquaio must prepare to deal with his replacement.
Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) has only lost once in his last dozen fights, with that defeat a tight one in a split decision loss to Shawn Porter in a bid for the WBC title in March 2019.
’54 Milagros’ has won three on the spin since, including eye-catching wins over Omar Figueroa Jr (UD12) and Mike Dallas Jr (RTD7), and he then claimed the WBA ‘Regular’ belt in his last outing, taking a September 2020 split decision win over Abel Ramos. Pacquiao will be a different proposition entirely though, but it’s the chance of a lifetime for the 35-year-old.
Prediction: Pacquiao isn’t quite done yet, and is flying in the gym under his famed trainer, Freddie Roach. He still has a spark about him, and I don’t think that Ugas has the qualities needed to inflict a defeat on the future Hall of Famer. I think Pacquiao turns in a special performance, and halts Ugas in the championship rounds.
Former Mayweather foes Guerrero & Ortiz clash
A bizarre match of faded former world champions takes place over ten rounds at welterweight, as former WBC champion Victor Ortiz, who hasn’t fought since February 2018, meets former featherweight and super featherweight ruler, Robert Guerrero, whose last outing was in September 2019.
Guerrero (36-6-1, 20 KOs) announced his retirement in July 2017 after a third round stoppage defeat to Omar Figueroa Jr. He has returned at a lower level, with three straight wins, whilst Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) was last seen drawing with Devon Alexander.
In his last four defeats, he has been halted each time, including to Floyd Mayweather Jr who Guerrero went the distance with in defeat.
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Prediction: This fight could go any which way as they are faded versions of their former selves. The tentative pick is for Guerrero to win inside schedule.
Magsayo meets Ceja
Mark Magsayo contests the WBO International featherweight title against former world title challenger, Julio Ceja over ten rounds.
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The undefeated Filipino is looking for a breakout win, and Ceja (32-4-1, 28 KOs) is definitely his toughest assignment to date.
The Mexican held Brandon Figueroa to a draw in his last contest in November 2019, but hasn’t won in his last three, and Magsayo (22-0, 15 KOs) seems to be getting him at the right time.
Prediction: Magsayo on the cards is the pick.
Castro faces Escandon
Also at featherweight, Carlos Castro gets a ten round assignment against faded former world title challenger Oscar Escandon.
Castro (26-0, 11 KOs) has steadily been stepping up in class recently, but Escandon (26-5, 18 KOs) shouldn’t cause him too many problems, and is 2-4 in his last six contests.
Prediction: Castro should get the job done early in this one.