Back in May of this year, Manny Pacquiao announced on Twitter that he would be facing Errol Spence, Jr. on August 21 in Las Vegas on a FOX Sports PPV. It would mark Pacquiao’s first fight in two years and he would be fighting for Spence’s WBC and IBF welterweight titles.
Ten days ago, that all changed as Spence had to withdraw after he suffered a retinal tear in his left eye.
Rather than postpone Pacquaio’s return until Spence was recovered, Premier Boxing Champions gave WBA Super welterweight champ Yordenis Ugas a significant promotion. Ugas was scheduled to put his WBA title on the line against Fabian Maidana as the co-feature on the card. He was instead bumped up to fight Pacquiao in the main event.
Ugas comes into this fight amidst a resurgence at 35 years of age. He won the first 11 fights of his career before suffering a split decision loss to Johnny Garcia in March 2012. He bounced back with four straight wins before suffering back-to-back losses to Emanuel Robles and Amir Ahmed Imam.
He appeared to hit a wall but responded with eight straight wins before suffering a debatable loss to Shawn Porter for the WBC belt. It was his first major championship opportunity. He followed that by beating Mike Dallas Jr. and Omar Figueroa Jr., taking the latter’s unbeaten record.
That all led to his second career major title fight, in January 2020. He faced Abel Ramos for the WBA Regular welterweight title and won a split decision. This is notable because of the current WBA welterweight set-up.
Pacquiao came into 2021 holding the WBA’s Super welterweight title. He won it in July 2019 with a split decision win over Keith Thurman. However, this past January he was stripped of the belt due to inactivity. The WBA moved him into the “champion in recess” designation in late January and in turn promoted Ugas from Regular champ to Super champ. Anything for more promotional fees, right?
And so, we come to Saturday’s fight. Ugas gets a shot at a big name and Pacquaio gets a title shot even though his planned title shot opponent fell through. Everybody except probably Errol Spence, Jr. is at least moderately happy.
Coming into the Spence fight, Pacquiao was a +170 underdog while Spence was a -210 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. With Ugas moved into the main event, Pacquiao is now a -360 favorite while Ugas is a +275 underdog. Ugas is no slouch and has a puncher’s chance, but this opponent change is a decided swing in Pacquiao’s favor.