By: Hans Themistode
As the rounds slowly ticked by, it became clearer and clearer to trainer Derrick James what was taking place.
WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas fought a methodical and tactical fight against former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao. Despite most believing that Pacquiao would either win a convincing decision or ultimately stop Ugas, the Cuban native used every tool available to him to pick up the close, but clear, unanimous decision victory in front of a jam-packed crowd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada last night.
Originally, Errol Spence Jr., the 147-pound unified champion, was pegged to take on Pacquiao. Much to his surprise, however, he was deemed unfit to face the future first-ballot Hall of Famer due to a torn/detached retina in his left eye.
With Pacquiao unsure if he’ll step into the ring ever again, the boxing world could be faced with an unanswered question of who would have won their showdown. Yet, considering the damage that Ugas was able to dish out, James is convinced that if Spence Jr. had been the one to face Pacquiao, the results would’ve been far more devastating.
“He would’ve stopped him,” said James following Ugas victory over Pacquiao during an interview with Little Giant Boxing. “I think he would’ve broken his ribs. He would’ve been just too physical, too strong.”
Before the opening bell rang, Spence Jr. made it clear that he’ll be watching closely from his palatial estate with the hopes of fighting the winner. James, trainer of Spence Jr., did the same. In the end, he was thoroughly impressed with what Ugas was able to accomplish on the night.
While James had originally kept the game plan of Spence Jr. under wraps, the long-time trainer admitted that the strategy that Ugas employed during their showdown was somewhat similar to the instructions he planned on issuing to his unified champion.
Despite Pacquiao’s status as an all-time great and his ability to hold off Father Time, at the age of 42 and considering his significant disadvantage in terms of overall size, James believes that Ugas was nearly flawless.
“When you have a guy like Pacquiao, you have to push him and bully him and bulldog him,” continued James. “You have to let him know that you’re the bigger guy. Ugas let him feel it every now and then with a forearm, a stiff arm, he would push him on the ground. What he’s doing is he’s breaking Pacquiao’s rhythm. You can’t let a guy that great, be great. Ugas never let Pacquiao be great. He stayed on top of him. He looked amazing.”
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