Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, 42, admits that he may have fought his final fight after the Filipino icon was beaten by Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas by unanimous decision in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Ugas, who was drafted in to replace original opponent Errol Spence Jr. on just two weeks notice in what was Pacquiao’s first fight since a July 2019 win against Keith Thurman, seemed a step ahead of his experienced opponent throughout, finding a home for his laser-sighted job early and often.
The Cuban fighter also stifled Pacquiao’s trademark flurries by landing right hands down the middle to contain any momentum that he was generating.
The Filipino, who is considered by most to be among the most dominant world champions in history, was wearing the damage of Ugas’ constant aggression by the fourth, with Ugas settling into a counter-punching rhythm as the fight wore on, forcing Pacquaio to take more chances – but that right hand served as significant punctuation to several exchanges.
When Pacquaio did manage to land, such as a clubbing blow in the tenth round, it was more often than not met with a counter-punch, as Ugas refused to relent.
Sensing that he was down on the scorecards Pacquaio pushed forward in the later rounds and in the 12th – the 498th round of his illustrious career – looked to land a home run knockout but Ugas, a world champion in his own right, managed to stymie any late resurgence.
When the scores were read out (115-113, 116-112, 116-112) questions were raised as to whether this may have been the last time that Pacquaio fights – something he addressed in his own post-fight comments.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked if it is time to call it a day.
“I need to relax and make a decision.That’s boxing. I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments. My legs were tight. I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best.“
🐐 Not his night tonight, but Manny Pacquiao remains the only fighter in the entire history of boxing to reign as world champion in four separate decades… pic.twitter.com/uek1tYaofu
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) August 22, 2021
If that was Manny Pacquiao’s last fight, I want to thank him for never ducking dangerous opponents and ALWAYS COMPETING WITH ALL HIS HEART AND SOUL.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) August 22, 2021
Manny will always be one of my favourite fighters ever, I was lucky enough to be on his undercard. If that was the last time we were to see him box, just be happy you got to witness greatness over the last 20 odd years! What a legend of a man & fighter 🇵🇭 #Pacquiaopic.twitter.com/SLAWjtnQKU
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) August 22, 2021
Ugas, meanwhile, was full of praise for his opponent – but made clear that the plaudits should be headed his way for the performance.
“I’m very excited but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this opportunity in the ring today. We only had two weeks of training but I listened to my corner and it all worked out.
“I told you I am the champion of the WBA and I showed it tonight. A lot of respect for [Pacquiao], but I won the fight.”
And if Pacquaio does call time on his iconic career, he has certainly left a mark on the sport.
“Not his night tonight, but Manny Pacquiao remains the only fighter in the entire history of boxing to reign as world champion in four separate decades,” wrote reporter Michael Benson online.
“If that was Manny Pacquiao’s last fight, I want to thank him for never ducking dangerous opponents and ALWAYS COMPETING WITH ALL HIS HEART AND SOUL,” added U.S. television personality Skip Bayless.
“Manny will always be one of my favourite fighters ever, I was lucky enough to be on his undercard,” wrote undefeated fighter Michael Conlan.
“If that was the last time we were to see him box, just be happy you got to witness greatness over the last 20 odd years! What a legend of a man & fighter.”