By: Hans Themistode
There isn’t much that can get under the skin of Manny Pacquiao. Even as the former eight-division world champion stood stoically as past opponents have ripped and ridiculed him to no end, the now 42-year-old has simply continued to smile and heap praise on his antagonists.
While the Filipino native has kept most of his fights purely business, he’s openly admitted that for his upcoming showdown against Yordenis Ugas, he has a bone to pick with him.
“I didn’t like that someone took my belt without challenging me in the ring,” said Pacquiao during the final press conference for his matchup against Ugas this coming Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In July of 2019, Pacquiao stepped into the ring against then WBA welterweight champion, Keith Thurman. After flooring his man in the opening round, Pacquiao grinded out a close split decision win.
Although he picked up the victory, Pacquiao admitted that Thurman gave him one of the most challenging fights of his career, even going as far as to say that Thurman hit as hard as former opponent, Antonio Margarito, a notoriously heavy-handed fighter.
Pacquiao’s normally active schedule was then placed on hold as he took the rest of 2019 off and the entirety of 2020. Ugas, on the other hand, kept active in that period. He reeled off three straight victories in that time frame, including a split decision over Abel Ramos for the WBA “Regular” title.
Just a few months later, Pacquiao saw his title reign truncated as he was stripped of his championship and instead, placed as “Champion in Recess.” Ugas was then subsequently elevated to full titleholder.
Originally, Pacquiao attempted to regain his championship status as his team wrote a letter to the WBA sanctioning body. With the 42-year-old preparing to take on WBC/IBF champion Errol Spence Jr., the Filipino native was seeking to make their contest a full unification. Yet, with the WBA formally turning Pacquiao down, he brushed their unwillingness to crown him under the rug and proceeded to prepare for his matchup against Spence Jr.
With less than two weeks remaining until their showdown, however, Spence Jr. was forced to pull out due to a torn/detached retina in his left eye. Already planning to make an appearance on the card in the co-main event against Fabian Maidana, Ugas was offered to move into the spotlight to take on Pacquiao in the main event on the night, something he accepted with no hesitation.
Now, with both men set to square off, Pacquiao is excited to put to bed the ever confusing question of who is the WBA welterweight champion?
“Both of us are champions, but we’ll see who has the belt after Saturday.”