The smooth-boxing Cuban outboxes and out-brawls one of boxing's icons to retain his world welterweight title Saturday night on pay-per-view.
Manny Pacquiao suddenly aged. Just before he went out for the last round, Pacquiao sat back in his corner with both eyes swollen and a sullen, blank thousand-yard stare on his face. His trainer, Freddie Roach, and cornerman, Buboy Fernandez, were talking but Pacquiao didn’t seem to hear what they were saying.
Pacquiao wore the expression that it was the end at the age of 42.
For Yordenis Ugas, Saturday night marked a beginning. The Cuban expatriate successfully defended the WBA welterweight title for the first time by winning a unanimous decision over the Filipino icon in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event before 17,438 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) fought a great tactical fight, dominating the second half working his jab to the body and landing swinging, sweeping rights that Pacquiao (67-8-2, 39 KOs) didn’t see. Judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld each saw it 116-112 for Ugas, while judge Patricia Morse Jarman had it a little tighter for Ugas, 115-113.
“I’m very excited, but most of all I want to thank Manny Pacquiao by giving me this moment in the ring tonight,” Ugas said. “I told you I am the champion of the WBA and I showed it tonight. (Pacquiao) is a great competitor, but I wanted to show I am the champion of the WBA and I have a lot of respect for him.
“That double jab was the lead punch. We only had two weeks of training, but I listened to my corner and it all worked out. Now the plan is to unify the title at welterweight. Everyone knows who the real champion is.”
Pacquiao was supposed to fight undefeated IBF/WBC World Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr., who on August 9 was forced to pull out with an eye injury. Ugas, who was originally supposed to fight welterweight contender Fabian Maidana, was making his first defense of the WBA title and immediately stepped in to replace Spence.
Pacquiao still speaks in those high-pitched, tip-toe tones. Breathe hard enough on the paper-thin scar tissue that wraps around his eyes and small fissures may open. The Filipino living legend still has calves that bulge like small mountains. He’s been boxing as long as he can remember. He’s been boxing as long as anyone can remember.
He’s hinted at making a presidential run in the Philippines where he is a Senator. He’s hinted this could be it, it could be his last fight.
In the end, Pacquiao looked tired.
“I don’t know,” Pacquiao responded when asked if he would fight again. “Let me relax and make a decision whether I continue to fight or not. I will make a final announcement next month (about running for president). I know I face a bigger problem than boxing. My legs were tight (tonight), and that’s why it was hard to move.”
Within the first 16 seconds of the fight, Pacquiao landed a barrage of punches on Ugas’ midsection. By the end of the first, Ugas began poking at Pacquiao’s middle. By the second, it was apparent that Ugas’ game plan was to go to the body.
Ugas landed a solid right in the third, though in the last 50 seconds Pacquiao, standing flatfooted, pushed back Ugas with a straight right. Ugas opened the fourth with a double jab, which snapped Pacquiao’s head back. With 2:18 left in the fourth, referee Russell Mora stopped the action after Ugas hit Pac Man with a left on the beltline. It was Mora’s third warning to Ugas about low blows.
Ugas used distance well, backing up Pacquiao with his jab. Pacquiao was stationary. He took leaping punches, which often missed. Ugas, meanwhile, worked sporadically. After the seventh, there was a small knot that appeared on the corner of Ugas’ left eyebrow.
Ugas landed a wide right on Pac Man’s head in the eighth, though Pacquiao had a solid round with activity. Ugas landed a counter left to the body in the ninth, and he worked well from distance, mainly operating behind a good jab.
In the 10th, Pacquiao seemed to rattle Ugas in the first minute with a barrage, but Ugas came right back with his sweeping right hands. From the sixth through the 10th round, Ugas outlanded Pac Man.
Entering the championship rounds, it was very possible to see Ugas leading. Pacquiao recovered somewhat with a consistent jab in the 11th. Ugas poured it on in the 12th, landing a string of rights that opened a cut near Pacquiao’s left eye. It was a convincing victory for a fighter who has now established himself among the elite at 147.
Robert Guerrero wakes up the ghosts with a unanimous decision over Victor Ortiz
Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero last fought in July 2019. “Vicious” Victor Ortiz last fought in February 2018. Guerrero is 38. Ortiz is 34. Someone had to give in this intriguing 10-round welterweight southpaw fight for their relevance.
Guerrero (37-6-1, 20 KOs) wound up outlasting Ortiz (32-7-3, 25 KOs) taking a unanimous decision.
“It felt good to be back in the ring with fans and I definitely fed off of their energy,” Guerrero said. “I knew this was going to be an all-out war. Victor Ortiz brought the best out of me tonight. It was back and forth action the entire fight and I came out on top as I predicted.
“Now I’m ready to step up and fight anyone they put in front of me. I have a lot left in me and I’m in this sport to win another world title. I dedicate this fight to my family and I give all the glory to my lord and savior Jesus Christ.”
Ortiz stung Guerrero within the first 30 seconds. The two went at each other in the second, before their energy waned. In the second, Guerrero snapped back Ortiz’s head with a left uppercut.
By the fifth, Guerrero’s left eye began swelling shut. In the second half of the fight, their work rates slowed down.
“The Ghost” seemed to do a little more, winning 96-94 on the three scorecards.
“I thought I won.” Ortiz said. “It is what it is. It was a close fight. He didn’t hurt me. A couple times I got caught off balance but that was it. I should have boxed a little better, but hey, he did what he had to do.
“I know I box a lot more usually. But tonight, it was more toe-to-toe. I don’t know if it was machismo or what. It was a good fight though. He’s a great fighter. We’re still fighting. We have a decade left. I’m going to stay at welterweight and I’ll take any 147-pounder.”
Mark Magsayo looked magnificent in knocking out Julio Ceja
In a world WBC featherweight title eliminator, Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo, who was discovered and is promoted by Manny Pacquiao, knocked out Julio Ceja in the 10th round.
With 2:34 left in the first round, Magsayo, 26, knocked down Ceja with a perfect left hook on the face. Ceja got back up, though it didn’t take long for him to feel his feet. With :40 left in the second, Ceja dropped a right to the body that caught Magsayo’s attention.
In the fifth, Ceja’s constant body attack set up a left hook that dropped Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOs) and had him in real trouble. After six, Ceja, 28, appeared to be getting stronger, while Magsayo appeared to be fading.
Then came the 10th. Magsayo found renewed vigor. He closed in on Ceja (32-5-1, 28 KOs). At first, he missed with a left hook, setting up a chance to fully extend a straight right on Ceja’s chin, knocking him out cold at :50. Referee Kenny Bayless didn’t even bother counting.
Magsayo was down 87-82 and 86-83 (2) when the knockout came.
“I just worked a lot on the straight punches,” Magsayo said. “I kept working it round after round and when I saw he was hurt, I followed up. I’m so glad for the outcome. I expected his style to make it happen and I expected a knockout tonight.
“I got knocked down and was surprised, but I focused my mind on what I wanted, a world championship shot. It’s my dream today and now it’s coming true. Hopefully my next fight is a world title shot.”
Carlos Castro is impressive in stopping Oscar Escandon
Featherweight Carlos Castro overcame a slow start to stop rugged pintsized Oscar Escandon at 1:08 of the 10th round.
Escandon shook Castro (27-0, 12 KOs) a few times in the first, crushing the younger, taller fighter with a brutal left hook near the end of the first three minutes. Castro, 27, allowed the squatty 37-year-old Escandon (26-6, 18 KOs) inside, using counter right hands to establish a distance that worked. In the seventh round, Castro appeared to knock down Escandon, which was overturned between rounds to be ruled a slip—rightfully so.
By then, Castro had gained control of the fight.
In the 10th, Castro applied pressure and landed a right on the chin that stunned Escandon, and he followed that with a right in the back of his left ear and sent Escandon down. Referee Celestino Ruiz took a close look at Escandon, who took a knee, then waved it over.
“I knew it was going to be a slow start,” Castro said. “Manny Robles taught me a lot, but a year and a half out of the ring, a new coach—it’s always different. Sparring and training is always different from fights, so I feel great and happy for the opportunity. I have to keep progressing.
“Escandon has been in there with the best. He’s gone a lot of rounds with world champions. But it was just a matter of time, picking our punches. I sat down a little more on my shots. I’ve been with Manny Robles for only four months. With a little more time, I think we’ll be able to dominate the division.”
On the undercard, featherweight Angel Contreras (11-4-2, 6 KOs) pulled off a mild upset with an eight-round decision over previously undefeated Filipino John Dato (14-1-1, 9 KOs). Lightweight Mikel Clements made a successful pro debut with a four-round decision over Eliseo Villalobos (1-1). Super middleweights Burley Brooks (6-2-1, 5 KOs) and Camero Rivera (9-6-4, 6 KOs) fought to a six-round draw.
Lightweight Frank Martin (14-0, 10 KOs) won a 10-round decision over Ryan Kielczweski (30-6, 11 KOs). Heavyweight Steve Torres (5-0, 5 KOs) finished Justin Rolfe (6-3-1, 4 KOs) at 2:33 of round one in a scheduled four-rounder. Lightweight Jose Valenzuela (9-0, 6 KOs) stopped Donte Strayhorn (12-4, 4 KOs) at 1:29 of the fourth round of a scheduled eight-rounder.
For a closer look at Pacquiao vs Ugas, check out our fight night page.