Manny Pacquiao will still be aiming to rejoin the ranks of pro boxing world champions this weekend, but he will be facing an unexpected opponent. Originally scheduled to battle Errol Spence Jr. for the WBC, IBF, and The Ring welterweight titles, Pacquiao will now face reigning WBA (super) welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas after Spence was forced to withdraw from Saturday night’s fight at T-Mobile Arena after suffering an eye injury during training. Idle since recording a 12-round split decision win over Keith Thurman in his last appearance in the squared circle over two years ago, Pacquiao was pegged as a lengthy underdog in his highly anticipated return to action against Spence. However, with Ugas now set to be his opponent, the odds have tilted heavily in the legendary Filipino pugilist’s favour.
CanadianBettingSites takes a look at all the odds and trends ahead of this highly anticipated welterweight matchup. Sports bettors looking to get in on boxing action for the first time can refer to our betting guides to learn all they need to know to get the best out of their combat sports betting experience.
|Odds - Pacquiao vs Ugas|
Change in Opponents Forces Changes in Training
Pacquiao was expected to face an enormous challenge in his first ring appearance since July 2019. The 42-year-old faced extremely long odds in his bid to return to the championship ranks against Errol Spence Jr. The current holder of the IBF and WBC welterweight titles, Spence has claimed victory in each of his 27 pro fights to date, capped by a unanimous decision win over Danny Garcia last December. In addition to stopping opponents in 21 of his 27 career wins, Spence has shown increasing confidence in marathon contests, with each of his three most recent victories coming by decision.
Errol Spence Jr.’s torn retina forced him out of his bout with Manny Pacquiao this weekend.
The location of the fight and the timing of the eye examination might have saved his vision.
I wrote about ocular injuries in boxing and Spence’s prognosis: https://t.co/95WYrIwTgf
— Corey Erdman (@corey_erdman) August 16, 2021
However, after suffering a retina injury during training that requires surgery to repair, Spence was forced to bow out of his highly anticipated date with Pac-Man. And while the addition of Ugas to Saturday night’s fight card has moved Pacquiao into the negative odds at the sportsbooks, the change in opponents comes with its set of challenges.
Pac-Man Rockets to Heavy Favourite in Highly-Anticipated Return
Currently pegged as strong chalk on the boxing odds at Bet99 (1.25), where a $20 bet on a Pac-Man victory pays out a return of just $25, Pacquiao has been to make significant shifts in his training to face Ugas. Unlike southpaw Spence, Ugas fights from an orthodox stance. That has forced Pacquiao to make rapid changes in training, including a speedy change to right-handed sparring partners.
Instead of facing unbeaten southpaw Spence for the WBC and IBF titles he holds, Pacquiao will fight for the WBA crown he once held against Ugas, a right-hander who had planned to defend the crown on the undercard. | @manilabulletinhttps://t.co/NzuB0yq4aa
— Manila Bulletin Sports (@mbsportsonline) August 12, 2021
But while Pacquiao is considered to be among the greatest southpaw fighters of all time, he characterizes himself as ambidextrous in the ring, willing and able to fight with and against any stance. That could emerge as a huge challenge for Ugas as he gets set to battle the man who was recently stripped of the WBA (super) welterweight title he now possesses.
Ugas Gaining Confidence as Champion
Ugas climbed to the top of the welterweight division with a narrow split decision win over Abel Ramos in September of last year and was later elevated to WBA (super) welterweight champion in January of this year after Pacquiao was stripped of the crown due to inactivity. Overall, the Cuban has posted wins in 11 of his past 12 fights to improve his pro boxing record to 26-4. However, remains a lengthy underdog to hand Pacquiao his first defeat in six years, with a $20 bet at Betway (3.40) generating a tidy $68 return.
— Premier Boxing Champions (@premierboxing) September 7, 2020
However, like Pacquiao, the quick scheduling of Saturday’s contest also presents training concerns for Ugas. The 35-year-old had reportedly been training to face a right-handed opponent in his native Cuba but has now had to change things up to adapt to the Filipino southpaw.
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Cuban Going the Distance with Regularity
One thing Ugas has going for him is his ability to go deep in his recent fights, which he demonstrated by clearly outboxing his opponents while getting the nod from the judges in each of his past three contests. That has fueled short odds at Sports Interaction (1.57), where a $20 bet on Saturday’s fight going the distance pays out $31.40.
Love Ugas’ body punching though. At this stage in Manny’s career, that could be big. It ain’t Spence but this fight should have some fireworks https://t.co/wQNcPIkn40
— Wild Man Marc Metro (@GodHamgod) August 17, 2021
But Ugas has also gained a reputation as a power puncher, who demonstrates a classic aggressive Cuban style in the ring. Considered to always be looking to deliver a knockout punch, Ugas has earned 12 of his 26 career victories by knockout or TKO. And the odds of Ugas finishing Pacquiao provide a handsome payday, with a $20 bet at Funbet (11.00) generating a return of $220. However, it has been nine years since an opponent last ended Pacquiao inside the distance. And while Ugas can be expected to hold his own in the ring against an ageing Pacquiao, it is tough to see him landing a decisive punch, or managing to outwit the wily 12-time world champion in what is likely to emerge as a Pac-Man win by decision.