By: Hans Themistode
Heading into his showdown against unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., Manny Pacquiao hoped to be introduced as not only an eight-division world champion but the current WBA belt holder. However, after long discussions behind the scenes between WBA committee members, Pacquiao will now saunter into his matchup against the Dallas native beltless.
Having stripped away the WBA 147 pound title from Keith Thurman in July of 2019, Pacquiao sat sequestered on the sidelines. The now 42-year-old dropped Thurman in the opening round of their clash which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, before eventually eking out a close split decision win.
With the Philippine native deciding against stepping into the ring for the entirety of 2020, his newly won title was taken away. From there, Yordenis Ugas, then “Regular” champion, was elevated to full titleholder as Pacquiao was relegated to “Champion in Recess.” Meaning, if Pacquiao wanted to regain championship status, he would be given the opportunity to skip ahead of the line once he returned and challenge Ugas for the right to win his championship back.
With that said, team Pacquiao attempted to bypass Ugas and requested to be reinstated this past May. After careful consideration, the WBA has decided against Pacquiao’s request.
Despite the denial, nothing has changed in terms of his showdown against Spence Jr. The two will still face off on August 21st at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The WBA’s ruling has ultimately allowed the rest of their champions to stay in place as opposed to moving down a notch. Not only would Pacquiao’s reinstatement have pushed Ugas back to “Regular” champion but Jamal James, who was elevated to “Regular” belt holder, would also have been forced to take a step back and been labeled interim champion.
Before news of the WBA’s decision, Ugas appeared indifferent as he patiently awaited the the ruling. With the Cuban native still in possession of the sanctioning bodies full title, he’ll now look to defend his championship in the co-main event of Pacquiao vs. Spence Jr. As of now, no opponent has been announced.
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