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  Pacquiao Drops Close Decision To Ugas

By William Trillo
Photos: Ryan Hafey - Premier Boxing Champions


In front of over 17,000 true boxing fans at The T-Mobile in Las Vegas Welterweight Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39,KOís) and Yordenis Ugas (27-4, 12 KOís) put it all on the line for the WBA Super World Welter Title. Coming in as the late replacement Ugas had a lot to prove, even though he was the champ. As it turns out he did all that and more.

As the bout started Pacquiao looked like he always does, bouncing on his feet, moving in and out rapidly and landing quick punches. For his part Ugas, who looked much bigger, stood his ground as Pacquiao attacked. As Pacquiao was surveying the landscape and timing the punches of Ugas he was surprisingly met with a stiff right hand that caught his attention. Ugas is good and he wasnít about to be intimidated by the legend that is Pacquiao.

It was clear as round three was underway that we were watching a very good and hard-hitting battle. Over the course of the next few rounds this was an exciting give and take affair that had the crowd roaring with approval.

It was during round six that for the first time we began to see the hints of a tiring and aging warrior. Pacquiao was starting to get hit often with Ugas punches and he was unable to retaliate. As the rounds went on Ugas body language told the story. He was confident in the ring and he was taking charge.

Heading into the championship rounds, the fight was close, but for Manny to pull this one out he was going to have to summon all his strength and a little bit of his former self to get by the determined Ugas.

It was not to be. Ugas rocked Pacquiao twice in round eleven with sharp concussive blows. Manny did not go down but he was in trouble. His punches were falling short and he was unable to stay out of the way of anything Ugas was throwing. To be blunt, by the twelfth round Pacquiao could not avoid getting hit at all. Ugas was dominant to the end and as the final bell rang he raised his hands in victory, and rightly so.

The fight went to the judges scorecards and they all saw it in favor of Ugas with scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice.

On his victory Ugas stated, ďIím very excited but, most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in the ring today. I told you, I am the champion of the WBA and I showed it tonight. Iím very emotional. A lot of people say Cubans canít win the big fight. So, Iím very proud that I got this win for Cuba and showed what we are all about.Ē

It was a good entertaining fight although it was difficult to watch one of boxing long time stars age right in front of our eyes. But to his credit, Manny was gracious as always in defeat and he had nothing but praise his opponent. Pacquiao left a small crack in the door for possibly one more fight but itís hard to imagine he would return to the ring anytime time soon, if ever. Manny has nothing to prove and if he left the game today, he could walk away with his head held high.

After his loss Manny shared, ďCongratulations to Ugas and his team. Thank you to all of you. I want to thank all my fans and the media. For many decades, the press, media and boxing fans were always behind us, supporting us. Thatís why weíre here, why we became popular and why we accomplished our dreams as a fighter. I am a fighter outside and inside the ring. I look forward to returning to the Philippines and helping them during this pandemic. In the future you may not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring. I donít know. Let me rest first, relax and make a decision if Iíll continue to fight or not.Ē

Featherweight Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16 KOís) scored an impressive KO over Julio Ceja (32-5-1, 28, KOís) in this rock-em sock-em attraction. Only seconds into the fight a sharp left hand pulverized Ceja who went down with a crash. It looked as if it might be over quickly. But a resilient Ceja not only arose but went on to start doing some real damage of his own.

No sooner said than done and now it was Magsayo who found himself on the receiving end of a punch that would put him on the seat of his pants in round five. Ceja had seemingly took complete control of the bout, but that was about to change. It was just seconds into round ten when Magsayo uncorked a double right hand combination. Ceja was out before he hit the deck. No need to count here, Ceja wasnít getting up anytime soon. It was a spectacular by KO by the Filipino Magsayo who not only made himself the number one featherweight contender in the WBC but may have also made himself the heir apparent to fellow countryman Manny Pacquiao.

After the fight a jubilant Magsayo declared, "Iím 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. Itís my dream today and now itís coming true. Hopefully my next fight is a world title shot."

Featherweight Carlos Castro (27-0, 12 KOís) was met by a fierce early attack by Oscar Escandon (26-6, 18 KOís) but was able to weather the storm in the early rounds. By the middle rounds Castro had turned the tide of events and was handing Escandon a good beating.

It was in the tenth and final round that Castro unleashed a flurry of blows that dropped Escandon and left him without his wits. Escandon beat the count but it was clear he was in no shape to continue. The bout was halted at at 1:08 mark of round ten. With the victory Castro snagged the vacant WBC Continental Americas Feather Title.

After his performance Castro said, "Escandon has been in there with the best. Heís 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. Iíve been with Manny Robles for only four months. With a little more time, I think weíll be able to dominate the division. Whatís next is up to my promoters. Iím going to take some time off to spend time with my family, thank my coaches and enjoy the victory."

The next time you input the words ďugly fightĒ into your favorite search engine itís very likely the first photo that will appear will be the contest between Welterweights Victor Ortiz (32-7-3, 25 KOís) and Robert Guerrero (37-6-1, 20 KOís). Headbutts caused a gash over the eye of Ortiz after the third round. More of the same put an angry mouse under the left eye of Guerrero a few rounds later.

Those would be the highlights, unless of course you want to count the boo-birds who appeared in round seven and remained until the end of the fight. Officially all three judges saw this one 96-94 in favor of Guerrero.

Featherweight John Dato (14-1-1, 9 KOís) tasted defeat for the first time at the hands of Angel Antonio Contreras (11-4-2, 6 KOís). Contreras dropped and bloodied Dato en route to a unanimous decision victory. The judges scored the bout 78-73, 77-74, and 77-74, all in the favor of Contreras.

Light Heavyweights Burley Brooks (6-2-1, 5 KOís) and Cameron Sevilla Rivera (9-6-4, 6 KOís) opened the Las Vegas show with a lackluster six round draw. Final scores tallied 58-56 Rivera, 59-55 Brooks and 57-57 even.

Lightweight Mikel Clements made the most of his Pro-debut by scoring a unanimous decision victory over Eliseo Villalobos (1-2).


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