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Yordenis Ugas Defeats Manny Pacquiao – Making Sense Of The Big Upset

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Brin-Jonathan Butler
David Greisman

Yordenis Ugas Becomes A Legend In One Fight

It has been hard for Cuban fighters to get historic wins. We have had in the modern era, Jose Napoles who defeated Emile Griffith, Joel Casamayor defeating Diego Corrales twice, and Guillermo Rigondeaux defeating Nonito Donaire – Yordenis Ugas now adds his name to the list of great Cuban pro boxers as he beat cultural icon, Manny Pacquaio, in what might be Pacquiao’s last bout. Adding to that, Napoles lost to Carlos Monzon, Casamayor lost to Juan Manuel Marquez, Rigondeaux lost to Vasyl Lomachenko, and Ugas well he beat the all-time great, which hadn’t been done in Cuban professional boxing.

Ugas, who up until five years ago, was looked at as an underachiever as a professional, an opponent in the sport of boxing, “the b-side guy” as he was most known for being a great amateur, with bad losses as a pro to Amir Imam, Johnny Garcia, and Emmanuel Robles, but wins in the amateurs over guys like Terence Crawford Sadam Ali, Roniel Iglesias, Darleys Perez and Francisco Vargas to name a few. The issue with Ugas was largely his inactivity in fights as noted by split decision losses to Garcia and Robles, and without rewatching them, his style left the judges to interrupt in their own mind what they saw, and without complete separation, it gets risky.

Ugas resurrected his career on Premier Boxing Champions undercards, defeating undefeated fighter Jamal James, Bryant Perrella, as well as good gym guys Levan “The Wolf” Ghvamichava, Thomas Dulorme, and Ray Robinson, running the gauntlet of tough fighters. Ugas went undefeated in this stretch which set up a bout with Shawn Porter on FOX.

The Porter fight will be a fight of myth, as many felt Ugas beat Porter, but Ugas lost on the judges’ cards, probably based around work rate, and also a knockdown in the final round being called a slip, didn’t help either, the Cuban fighters cause as well.

Ugas entered this bout against Pacquiao with wins against Omar Figueroa Jr., and Abel Ramos, and ten days’ notice for the bout. Ugas had spent time in camp with Manny Pacquiao, prior to the fight being rescheduled from Errol Spence Jr., a heavy underdog, and with many suspecting he hurt his left bicep based on an pre-fight interview with a strange inflammation around his muscle.

Ugas might have always beaten Pacquiao, but at this stage, it seems like Ugas beats an older Pacquiao each and every time. Ugas was bigger, stronger, able to keep his distance, and despite a rather low punch output of around 400+ punches in twelve rounds, Ugas fought a smart fight, and one Pacquiao couldn’t win on athleticism as his looping overhand right stopped Pacquaio from throwing his straight left very early in the fight. Without that punch, Pacquaio was simply, Manny.

Another thing of note is fame. For most of Ugas’ life he has probably watched Pacquiao, and for most of Pacquaio’s life he hadn’t watched Ugas, so for Ugas, in hindsight, he had a lot of film, and memories to work off, to have the fight of his life. Ugas has always been good against southpaws, and despite the age gap, Ugas will never truly get the credit he deserves. Ugas will be one of, if not the only, Cuban fighters to be remembered for a win, and not a loss.

Ugas will now go down as one of the greatest Cuban pro boxers if for nothing else, having the biggest win in Cuban professional boxing history as he defeated the legend, Manny Pacquaio

Remembering Manny Pacquiao’s Career

Manny Pacquiao fought for four decades and was an icon upon an icon. For over ten years I have watched Manny Pacquiao fights as Pacquiao had become a larger-than-life cultural icon and someone who was bigger than the sport of boxing itself. While Pacquiao became an Asian star in the fight game, the only other one I can think of is Bruce Lee.

On Saturday night though, none of that mattered. The footspeed wasn’t the same, and though Pacquiao could probably beat many fighters in boxing, he couldn’t beat Ugas, who was bigger and stronger and had great timing. Ugas is awkward, faster than you think, and has a deceptive professional record. In short, Ugas was the guy no one wanted to fight in the division, and Pacquiao on Saturday night found out why.

Not unlike, a fellow Freddie Roach trained fighter Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao’s last fight more than likely will be a loss to a relatively non-discrete opponent, just like how Cotto called it a career against Sadam Ali.

Later this week, I will pay a proper tribute to a legend of the sport, Manny Pacquiao.

Father time is still undefeated.

Pacquiao vs Ugas Undercard

Robert Guerrero vs. Victor Ortiz – A Fun Old Guy Fight

Robert Guerrero edged out a fun bout with peer Victor Ortiz in a bout that was a lot better than most expected going in, as both fighters fought like their career was on the line in this bout. In the end, Guerrero, who always seemed to reach heights in his career that Ortiz never could sustain, had just enough to get by Ortiz.

Now the big question is what is next, as the question probably most asked was ‘why was this happening?’ – my hope is that it was for the love the sport, and if Guerrero continues I’d like to see him fight fighters from his era such as Devon Alexander or Andre Berto.

Mark Magsayo vs Julio Ceja

Featherweights Mark Magsayo and Julio Ceja split knockdowns in an entertaining bout, that was highly cautionary for Filipino fighter Mark Magsayo, who heading into this bout, I had high hopes for, but now thinks needs a bit more seasoning, but still seems to be a world champion in the making.

Magsayo has some flaws, two of which being 1) too offensive-minded at times, and 2) a lack of targeting the body, as Ceja seemingly only hit the body as Magsayo never answered back. Magsayo got a highlight-reel KO in the end, that left Ceja motionless, after the fight, and thankfully, Keith Idec of, reported that Ceja will be released today, but Magsayo will need to build on this fight, to win a world title, which is a realistic goal for the great fighter.

Carlos Castro vs. Oscar Escandon

Carlos Castro made a solid debut on a PBC card after his stint with Top Rank, and years prior Iron Boy Promotions, as he stopped Oscar Escandon in the tenth round. Castro is a high motor guy, if he was a DE in football, he would be a nightmare for linemen as he just keeps going and exhausting, not unlike a Julius Peppers. Castro picked up a tenth-round stoppage, in this fight, and now will be in the running for big fights in the PBC universe. Inactivity has been Castro’s downfall lately as he can’t seem to stay active.

Non PPV-Undercard

Jose Valenzuela continues to impress as he stopped Donte Strayhorn in four rounds. Valenzuela should be in a meaningful fight soon.

Frank Martin, who recently joined forces with Derrick James, defeated Ryan Kielczweski, a tough lightweight via a ten-round decision. Martin versus Valenzuela would be an interesting bout in the near future, as they occupy a seemingly similar space on the card.

Burley Brooks will have to reconsider a lot of things as he is now 0-1-2 in his last three fights as the Derrick James’ trained fighter fought to a draw against Cameron Rivera in a rematch of a bout he’d lost prior, as Brooks looks to potentially have a trilogy, on the undercard scene with a career club-fighter in Rivera. Brooks seems like a nice guy, but relies too much on uncontrollables such as strength, willpower, and self-belief, as distance gauging and technical boxing often go out the window when exchanges occur.

Joey Spencer’s brother, Mikkel, turned pro on the undercard and got a four-round decision to start his pro career.

Upsets Of The Week

Little-known undefeated fighter Armando Ramirez Almanza defeated Keith Hunter, the younger brother of Michael Hunter, in Mexico.

Angel Antonio Contreras defeated previously unbeaten John Dato in an eight-round bout. Contreras dropped Dato in the third round and won a decision.

Club Show

It wasn’t easy, but nothing has been for Kali Reis, the WBA women’s junior welterweight world champion as she was pushed to the limit against Diana Prazak, to get a majority decision win. The bout was very close.

A potential breakout star-in-the-making in women’s boxing, Alma Ibarra got an eight-round decision win over Kandi Wyatt, and Mexican heavyweight Elvis Garcia, fought at bridgerweight and now will be one of the first to challenge for the WBC’s new world title in the aforementioned division.

Stockton, California’s Wade Jones picked up a win over the weekend as well.

In Germany Zhan Kossobutskiy stopped veteran Joey Dawejko in two rounds.

MMA In 500 Words Or Less

Kayla Harrison

Kayla Harrison is sick of the b.s. thrown at most female fighters and doesn’t take crap, and I love it.

Harrison who fought last Thursday night was so dominant, she didn’t allow her opponent, Genah Fabian to land one strike.

On a conference call, this week she ripped a reporter, who awkwardly talked about her opponent, Genah Fabian’s good looks while mispronouncing her name.

The exchange explains to me, why Harrison is such a strong star in the sport of MMA, as it appears she is more than likely to be in the promotional juggernaut of the UFC in the next year or so, and the fact her opponent, smiled and appreciated the blatant sexism of the question asked towards her, speaks volumes. Harrison isn’t just one of the best fighters we have seen in the last two to three years in MMA, she is one of the strongest voices of women’s empowerment we have seen in all sports, and has a resume to prove.

For those unfamiliar with Harrison, she is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016) in Judo and former training partner of Ronda Rousey, as well as an undefeated MMA fighter, currently fighting in the PFL. In this organization, Harrison has never had a fight that seemed competitive as she just appears to be a level above all those against whom she competes against.

For me, being raised by a single mother, seeing a bad-ass female fighter, who is unapologetic in a male-dominated world is a breath of fresh air, not unlike seeing Vergil Ortiz Jr. call out top fighters, as Harrison is not going to be anything less than what she is, and will not dumb down her image to fit societies expectations of how a woman ought to be. In short, Harrison demands respect the same way a male athlete does, equity, and doesn’t want the dialogue to be about prominently male reporters gawking at her athletic body, she wants to be treated with the same respect Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and the other greats of MMA got, all of whom, never dealt with questions bout their bodies, but just achievements.

The ugly side of women’s combat sports is the deal with the devil, that sex sells, and Harrison is a true pioneer in the sense that she has the talent, and the charisma to not just change the narrative, but also not be treated or seen as anything less than the athlete she is. In a male-dominated world, Harrison is a welcomed change of talent, who is not afraid to be an advocate for change, and unapologetic in her beliefs.


In a somewhat exciting main event, Jared Cannonier beat Kelvin Gastelum on an ESPN fight card that will go under the radar. Cannonier landed the more iconic shots, and won a narrow unanimous decision. After the fight, Cannonier said “he was broke.” Which has been contextualized all week.

Mark O. Madsen picked up a split decision win over aging veteran Clay Guida in a performance that asked more questions than gave answers.


Heavyweight Cheick Kongo submitted Sergei Kharitonov in a clash of two heavyweights, that served as the Bellator main event on Showtime.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle