By: Hans Themistode
Errol Spence Jr. is patiently watching the sand in the hourglass as he anxiously awaits his upcoming showdown against Yordenis Ugas on April 16th. The IBF and WBC unified welterweight titlist has sat unwillingly on the sidelines since scoring a fairly wide unanimous decision victory over Danny Garcia in December of 2020.
Although Spence Jr. is pegged as a sizable favorite to strip Ugas of his WBA title, both pundits and fans believe that Ugas has more than a puncher’s chance to spring the upset. In addition to Ugas picking up victories in 12 of his past 13 contests, his shining moment came just a few months ago.
On relatively short notice, Ugas stepped in to replace, ironically enough, Spence Jr., to take on future first ballot Hall of Famer, Manny Pacquiao. Spence Jr. could only sit back despondently as Ugas proved oddsmakers wrong by registering a unanimous decision victory.
Thanks to his efforts against Pacquiao, Ugas finds himself thought of highly in the mind of many in the boxing world. However, regardless of his career-changing victory, Spence Jr. shrugs his shoulders at those who believe a victory over Pacquiao will equate to a win over himself.
In fact, as Spence Jr. rummages through the annals of boxing history, he can point to a long list of former great fighters who came up short at the tail end of their careers.
“With all respect to Pacquiao, I’m a way different fighter than Pacquiao,” said Spence Jr. during a recent press conference. “At this point right now, I’m a better fighter than Pacquiao. Y’all keep bringing up Pacquiao but that’s like Larry Holmes fighting [Muhammad] Ali or Terry Norris beating up Sugar Ray Leonard or [Marcos] Maidana beating up Erik Morales. Pacquiao is way past his prime.”
As Spence Jr. eludes to, Ali, Leonard, and Morales, all ended their careers following devastating defeats. In 1991, Leonard suffered a one-sided unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Norris before retiring. Ultimately, he would return to the ring six years later at the age of 40 against Hector Camacho, losing via fifth-round stoppage.
Ali, at the age of 38, hung up his gloves following back-to-back one-sided beatings against the previously mentioned Holmes and Trevor Berbick in 1981. And as for Morales, on the back end of his career, he would go on to lose three of his final four contests, one of which came against Maidana.
More than anything, Spence Jr. refuses to get too involved in the recent performance of Ugas against a 42-year-old Pacquiao. The unified titlist, has, however, acknowledged that the split decision defeat Ugas suffered against Shawn Porter in 2019, was completely bogus.
But, regardless of Spence Jr. believing that Ugas’s victory over Pacquiao is a bit overblown, he does view Ugas as an incredible fighter and one who will give it his all come fight night.
“He’s a great fighter, he’s going to come to fight and he’s a real warrior but I’m a put on a great showing and I’m hungry too.”
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