Not taking replacement foe lightly, Pacquiao steps up training level
For someone whose opponent just got downgraded, Manny Pacquiao sure has upgraded his training.
He added an extra hour on his morning run on Wednesday, opting to take the long way from his North Plymouth Blvd home to the parking lot just below Griffith Park where the iconic Hollywood sign stands.
In the afternoon, he swapped a scheduled workout to watch tapes of Yordenis Ugas—specifically the ones where the Cuban champ fought with southpaws like Pacquiao.
MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons said he never saw this kind of training intensity in Pacquiao when he fought Keith Thurman two years ago.
Fewer missed workouts
Against Thurman, Pacquiao would usually take two to three days off in a week as he try to “listen to his body.” This time, Gibbons said, Pacquiao has only missed two afternoon workouts in the entire six-week training camp.
“This is not an easy fight. Ugas is not the kind of fighter I can underestimate,” Pacquiao said. “I would never take him lightly.”
Smart thing to do, given Ugas has everything to gain and nothing much to lose other than the fanciful World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight super title.
Last January, Ugas was promoted from WBA “regular” welterweight to “super” champ when Pacquiao was stripped of it due to inactivity.
“I’m fighting not just for the money, but for my legacy, my country, for my own story,” said Ugas. “This is the most important fight of my life.”
He could have never said it better, considering the closest he had gotten a big fight was when he lost via split decision to former Pacquiao sparring mate Shawn Porter in March 2019.
Ugas was named a rush replacement to Errol Spence Jr., who backed out of the highly-anticipated battle because of eye problems that required surgery.
“I prefer the other (Spence) but sh*t happens. And he’s the next available guy,” said Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach. “[Ugas is] not as strong as the original guy. He’s taller, yeah. But he doesn’t make good use of his height.”
Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao’s cornerman and best friend, agreed with Roach. But he said a few tweaks in the fight plan is still in order.
“We will make adjustment to the strategy,” Fernandez said in Filipino, adding that Ugas being righthanded compared to Spence’s southpaw stance would require a different tactic. Fernandez also said that Ugas “likes to counter left. And he never backs down. You know Cuban boxers, they are very good.”
Right-handed or southpaw, it’s no big deal for Pacquiao: “I’m a bipartisan boxer. I’m used to fighting southpaws and right-handed [fighters]. They’re all the same.”
And the eight-division champion has no plans of slowing down his training with just 10 days left before their showdown at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.