Yordenis Ugas defied the odds with a career-best performance to beat Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision in their welterweight world title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Father Time appeared to finally catch up with Pacquiao, 42, at the T-Mobile Arena, as Ugas retained his WBA welterweight title and possibly ended the decorated, 72-fight career of the eight-division world champion.
The Cuban came in at 11 days notice after unified WBC and IBF champion, Errol Spence Jr was forced to withdraw with a torn retina to his right eye and capitalised on his opportunity with a display of composure and skill, nullifying ‘Pacman’ throughout the twelve rounds.
Pacquiao, a full-time senator in his native Philippines began quickly as expected, but was unable to establish the rhythm that had seen him dominate during his prime and secure famous victories over the likes of Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez amongst others.
Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) used his jab to great effect in the opening two rounds and connected with blows to head and body in the second.
Pacquiao (62-8-2, 38 KOs) upped the ante in the third, letting his hands go, however the champion was proving evasive and thwarted his success with his elusive head movement and excellent defence.
A low blow called by referee Russell Mora in the fourth round did not deter Ugas from having further success and forced Pacuqiao to come out with some much-needed vengeance in the fifth in what was his busiest round to date.
Both men were not throwing much caution to the wind in a cagey spell during the mid-rounds, but the younger, fresher Ugas was edging the rounds with hurtful right hands, as Pacquiao struggled to find another gear.
The pair opened up in the tenth round, with the champion once again getting the best of the action landing a hard right hand in the closing moments.
Pacquiao looked despondent between rounds with the fight slipping from his grasp and despite the Filipino having a much better eleventh, his 35-year-old rival just had an answer almost every time, not allowing him to dominate the sessions and limiting him to just glimpses of his once brutal best.
’54 Milagros’ finished strongly in the final round and took a deserved unanimous decision with scores of 115-113, 116-112×2 to secure a historic win over a certain Hall of Famer and settled any lingering debate of the who the rightful WBA champion is, after Ugas was elevated from ‘Regular’ champion in January following the WBA’s decision to strip Pacquiao of his then-‘super’ belt.
“Pacquiao was a great competitor,” Ugas said in the ring post-fight
“A lot of respect for him. But I won the fight.
“Now the plan is to unify. He’s [Errol Spence] the next one on the list that I want to fight, but most of all I’m praying that he recuperates.”
Pacquiao remained coy in his post-fight interview over whether he would call time on his glittering career.
“I don’t know [if I’ll retire],” Pacquiao said in the ring post-fight.
“Let me rest first and relax and make a decision if I’ll continue to fight or not.”
Guerrero overcomes Ortiz
In the battle of former world champions, Robert Guerrero took a unanimous decision victory over Victor Ortiz.
All three judges scored the bout 96-94 in favour of Guerrero, although both men appeared a long way past their best.
The pair, who have both been defeated by Floyd Mayweather Jr started at a frantic pace, unloading without much regard for their defence.
Former WBC welterweight champion, Ortiz who was fighting for the first time since a majority draw with Devon Alexander in 2018 was frequently leaning in with his head and sustained a nasty cut in the third round.
Guerrero’s left eye was almost completely closed by the sixth round and the work was becoming scrappy with continuous holding.
Ortiz, 34, landed a good combination in the seventh, using his natural size advantage, however ‘The Ghost’ fired back with hurtful punches of his own.
Both men attempted their tanks in the closing stages and former two-weight world champion, Guerrero, 38, was crowned the victor on the cards.
Magsayo scores KO of the year contender
Undefeated featherweight Mark Magsayo climbed off the canvas to knock Julio Ceja out cold in a stunning tenth round twist.
Magsayo, a training partner of Pacquiao made a dream start knocking down Ceja with a left hook to the temple, although the Mexican former world title challenger dug in deep to dominate much of the encounter.
The 28-year-old found continued success to the body and ate the bulk of Magsayo’s blows, who appeared frustrated and tiring amid the relentless onslaught.
The Fillipino did respond with some ripping body blows of his own in the middle rounds, but was seemingly unable to make a real dent in his opponent.
However, out of almost nowhere, Magsayo ended proceedings in a flash. The 26-year-old landed a devastating right hand which sent Ceja crashing to the floor and out cold.
Here’s what Mark Magsayo’s KO looked like from inside the arena 👀 #PacquiaoUgas
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) August 22, 2021
Ceja was given immediate medical attention, as Magsayo celebrated a potential knockout of the year contender in a fight he came from behind to win.
In the opening televised bout on the card which was broadcast on FOX Sports pay-per-view in the USA and Sky Sports in the UK, Carlos Castro secured a tenth and final round stoppage over Oscar Escandon and claimed the WBC Continental Americas featherweight title.