Team Pacquiao alters fight plans to stay away from Cuban’s sneaky counterpunching
Manny Pacquiao’s corner began altering the fight plan on Thursday, using sparring sessions against three boxers to make key adjustment for the bout against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas.
The new strategy was cooked up after watching videos that allowed the eight-division champion’s corner to familiarize themselves with Ugas’ style. The Cuban veteran has an awkward, slouching stance when battling shorter opponents like Pacquiao and he is capable of slipping timely counterpunches against left-handed power punchers.
“Just like what Marquez likes to do,” said trainer Buboy Fernandez in Filipino. Pacquiao’s childhood friend was referring to Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez, who used one of those well-timed counters to knock Pacquiao out cold in the last of their four showdowns.
To make sure that KO doesn’t happen again, Pacquiao began practicing the strategy against boxers Giovanni Cabrera, AB Lopez and Ivan Redkach, who were given specific instructions to mimic Ugas’ tendencies.
“The good thing with Ugas is he doesn’t run away. His punches are hard, but he telegraphs most of them,” added Fernandez. “He levels down with his opponent instead of standing over them.”
Pacquiao extended his hours at Wild Card to five instead of the usual three, making up for Wednesday’s break. After the sparring, he hit the mitts and the double-end and speed bags.
Ugas is a last minute replacement for Errol Spence Jr. for the Aug. 21 bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
On Monday, two-belt champ Spence begged off from the title fight after sustaining a torn retina during training.
“When Spence had to be replaced, it was blessing in disguise for us,” said Fernandez. “We had a two-year layoff and at least now we have a chance to fine tune.”
But he was quick to say that Ugas, the reigning World Boxing Association welterweight super champion, can inflict damage despite his low knockout percentage. The 35 year-old has a record of 26-4-0 with 12 stoppages.
Fernandez urged Pacquiao to “not give him (Ugas) a chance” during their showdown.
“You know Cuban boxers are very good,” Fernandez added.
As good as Ugas seems to be, oddsmakers were not impressed. After pegging Pacquiao an underdog against Spence, bookies have now tagged the Filipino as an overwhelming favorite.
In Las Vegas, you’ll need a $350 bet on Pacquiao to generate a $100 payout. A $100 wager on Ugas, on the other hand, wins $275.
Fernandez said that if it’s his call, he’d like Pacquiao to still fight Spence this December. Fernandez said the fighting senator of the Philippines can schedule a farewell bout in Manila early next year—just before the presidential elections where Pacquiao is expected to run for the highest position.
Pacquiao will train on Saturday and Monday before heading to Las Vegas.
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