The world of combat sports proved once again that anything could happen. This past weekend we witnessed Yordenis Ugas upset Manny Pacquiao to retain the WBC (super) welterweight championship Pac-Man once owned.
The surprise loss from Pacquiao prevented many fans from making money with sports betting sites, but for those who took faith in the underdog, it was a profitable night.
And now, the future of the Philippine boxing icon is in question. Especially when considering there was a possibility that it was Pacquiao’s final fight even before the bell rang, due to his age and political aspirations.
Retirement possibilities grew stronger following an inefficient performance from Pacquiao, where he struggled to bust through Ugas’ guard and landed a mere 16% of his punches thrown.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Pacquiao said when questioned about his boxing future shortly after the end of their bout.
Ugas won the contest via unanimous decision; the scorecard read 115-113, 116-112, 116-112, and retained the converted WBA welterweight championship. Ugas flowed well behind his long-jab and mighty right hand to pull off the upset.
But the question remains, what does the future hold for Manny Pacquiao? Does he stick around, or does he move on to a new career path?
Will Pac-Man Retire?
This isn’t the route boxing purists want Pacquiao to take, but he’s gifted fans and critics alike with a lustrous career involving countless rounds of combat sports entertainment.
The crowd erupted in the T-Mobile arena when Pacquiao entered through the curtains to “The Eye of the Tiger”. He looks great and determined; he seemed like the Pacquiao who took the boxing world by storm to become the only eight-division world champion.
However, as both fighters began to settle in, it became evident this wasn’t the Pac-Man we know and love. The quick movement was non-existent; he hung around in the pocket, receiving a multitude of power shots from Ugas.
Pacquiao admitted in the post-fight presser that his legs were stiff, which hurt his speed and movement.
In the lead up to fight week, Pac-Man avoided the retirement questions. He decided to focus on Ugas to the best of his ability. At the press conference, Pacquiao sounded like a man who isn’t going to return despite mentioning he’d make an announcement on his career next month.
“In the future, you might not see Manny Pacquiao fight in the ring again. I don’t know,” Pacquiao said.
“In my heart, I want to continue to fight. But I also must consider my body. There are a lot of things in the Philippines that I can do to help people. I want to be an inspiration inside and outside the ring.
“God has a plan for me. I want to be a legend in boxing and a legend in politics. That is my legacy,” he told reporters.
“I will make a final announcement next month,” he said when asked if he’ll run for president.
Pacquiao, who has recently earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte, confessed that he’s in for a challenging fight within politics, a situation more challenging than any he has faced inside the ring.
A Rematch with Ugas?
If we’re staying on the positive side from a boxing perspective, Pacquiao could find the fighting spirit and announce that he will return. And should this be his choice, a sequel bout versus Ugas is possible.
We must remember the fight was taken on eleven days’ notice. Neither man had an entire fight camp to compose an effective game plan. We can’t be positive the fight would play out differently under an entire camp, but Pacquiao was preparing for Errol Spence Jr., an entirely different boxing style.
Sure, the rematch could end with the same result, with Ugas winning again. But that’s what keeps the rematch an intriguing one, as that would be the “excuse” during the build-up for a second attempt by Pacquaio.
“Two-hundred percent,” Ugas bluntly said through an interpreter about a rematch. “Manny is a great legend, great fighter. He wants a rematch, no question about it. A legend like that deserves that.”
With that statement in mind, does anyone fancy Pacquiao vs. Ugas 2?