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Manny Pacquiao is at a career crossroads after losing points to Yordenis Ugás

  • Yordenis Ugas wins unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao
  • Ugas retains WBA welterweight title belt ahead of 17,438 in Vegas

Yordenis Ugás defeated Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision on Saturday night, delivering an impressive technical performance 11 days before and retaining his WBA welterweight title.

Ugás (27-4) seized his opportunity as Errol Spence Jr’s late injury replacement, frustrating Pacquiao (67-8-2) in what might be the last fight of the 42-year-old Philippine senator’s career.

The 35-year-old Ugás threw far fewer punches than Pacquiao, but his shots were more precise and effective. Pacquiao struggled to get in with Ugás’ effective jab, while Ugás landed his right hand with more effect in the later rounds.

Two judges scored it 116-112 for Ugás, and a third had it 115-113.

After an unimpressive performance on his return from the longest hiatus of his quarter-century in professional boxing, Pacquiao said he has not decided whether to fight again. He also would not confirm whether he will participate in the Philippines presidential race, as widely expected. He plans to make an announcement next month.

The win was the culmination of a long journey for Ugas, who defected from Cuba two years after winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Ugás retired from boxing for two years in the middle of the last decade, but recovered and took advantage of his career. unexpected shot against one of the greatest fighters of this era and took his 12th victory in 13 fights.

“He is a great competitor, but I came here to show that I am the champion of the WBA,” said Ugás through a translator. “A lot of respect for him, but I won this fight.”

Ugás didn’t get this chance until last week when Spence had to drop out after discovering he suffered a torn retina during a pre-fight physical. Ugás was booked on the undercard, but he seized the opportunity to get into the spotlight and payday that had been just out of reach since he left Cuba 11 years ago on a small boat bound for Mexico.

T-Mobile Arena appeared to be largely sold out despite the late opponent switching, and the crowd of 17,438 stood vocally behind the Filipino hero. Even after a lengthy layoff in the latter stages of his career, Pacquiao remains a surefire draw and a bankable star in a sport lacking both at the highest level.

Despite the short notice, Ugás had a clear game plan and worked hard in the first rounds with an effective jab and body shots. Pacquiao was more aggressive and occasionally got the crowd on their feet with combinations, but he didn’t immediately find a consistent way to get into the jab.

Ugás’ confidence grew in the middle rounds and he responded to some action at the seventh round bell with a defiant shrug of his shoulders at Pacquiao. Pacquiao threw roughly twice as many punches as Ugás for long stretches, but they landed about the same number as Ugas showed his defense and precision against Pacquiao’s activity.

Pacquiao caught Ugás with a combination in the 10th round and knocked him back as the crowd excitedly mounted, but Ugás recovered and rallied with big shots.