Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters of his generation, returns to action this weekend with a bout against Yordenis Ugas, the Cuban star determined to break into the mainstream.
The Las Vegas tournament will be broadcast live on SuperSport Grandstand and SS Action from 03:00 CAT on Sunday.
It’s an intriguing match-up for several reasons, chiefly because Pacquiao had been originally matched against welterweight star Errol Spence. But injury to Spence forced a late change and the Filipino star has had to switch tack.
Ugas is big at the weight, defensively sound and a slick counter-puncher who will be unafraid to walk Pacquiao down. He may not have the cachet of some of the division’s elite boxers, but in losing a disputed decision to Shawn Porter two years ago, he demonstrated that he belongs at this level.
That’s the only defeat on his ledger in the past seven years and he’s been more active than the eight-division superstar, who hasn’t boxed in two years.
At the age of 42, it’s fair to ask how much Pacman might still have in the tank, but that’s a question he is happy to answer every time he fights. The last time he did so, he imposed a beatdown on Keith Thurman, whose youth and speed made little difference.
What gives this fight extra appeal is that both are fan-friendly operators. Unlike most Cuban operators, Ugas likes a good tear-up and will enjoy going head-to-head with the southpaw Pacquiao, who loves throwing fast combinations.
“Everyone knows my story about how I came to America to follow my dreams of becoming a world champion, and now it’s time to stamp my legacy with a victory as one of the best Cuban fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves,” said Ugas.
It will be against great odds, but he will have his opportunity this weekend.
Pacman, as ever, won’t make it easy.