By: Dennis Guillermo
It only took a couple of days for Team Pacquiao to “figure out” Errol Spence, Jr.’s last-minute replacement Yordeniz Ugas. Manny Pacquiao’s co-head trainer Buboy Fernandez went as far as saying that Ugas stepping in for the injured Spence is a blessing in disguise.
This according to a story published on Philstar.com https://www.philstar.com/sports/2021/08/12/2119484/pacquiao-camp-solves-mystery-last-minute-foe (titled: Pacquiao camp solves mystery of last-minute foe)
“The incident, according to Fernandez, turned out to be a “blessing in disguise” as Pacquiao is coming off a two-year layoff and will face a relatively less dangerous fighter than Spence. “It’s a tune-up at least,” said Fernandez.
Although ironically Fernandez said they aren’t underestimating Ugas and won’t take him lightly, it’s safe to say the sentiment within the Pacquiao camp is a tad bit more confident at least compared to their energy toward Spence. To say an opponent is a “blessing” and a “tune-up” speaks for itself, and though Ugas and his camp may feel the same as far as being blessed to get the opportunity to face a legend like Pacquiao to make a name for himself, they’re definitely not coming in to bless or tune-up Pacquiao.
Ugas is a legitimate threat.
Though not the marquee name that Spence is, Ugas is more than a worthy and dangerous opponent. He has also consistently gotten better. He gave the rugged and tough Shawn Porter all he could handle a couple of years back, and is as strong as anyone in the welterweight division as well as jacked to the gills. Sure, he has his flaws, but this could easily be a trap fight for Pacquiao if they somehow bring their guard down a notch and relax, thinking Ugas is a slouch and a much easier night than Spence. If anything, this is great bulletin board material for Ugas’ camp.
As much as Pacquiao has looked impressive in sparring, the reality is he’s still 42 and has been out of action for two years. Ugas is younger, hungry, extremely motivated. Pacquiao doesn’t need to look too far to remind himself what an eager and ready replacement could do to an older champion. They can only hope the ghost of the late Lehlo Ledwaba lay in peace on August 21, but one who forgets history and underestimates its significance, and throws caution to the wind will be at risk of repeating it.
Ugas may not be the big name that can enhance Pacquiao’s legacy, but to Ugas the name Pacquiao is (and then some, with a cherry on top). Don’t count your blessings, just yet.