The Pac is back and Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse looks ahead to what he believes will be a thrilling evening of boxing in Las Vegas...
"With four of the champion’s last five fights travelling the distance and nine of Pac’s ten also testing the judges, this is a bout that should take us long into the night."
Late scramble for Team Pac
Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring this weekend, but it won't be to face the opponent we expected. The modern-day star of the fight game was scheduled to battle Errol Spence Jr, but the American suffered eye damage during preparations and was forced to withdraw.
In many cases, a late change of opponent sucks the interest out of a bout, but that's not the case here. World champion Yordenis Ugas has stepped in at late notice to save the show, and the talented Cuban deserves credit for that.
Will the gamble pay off, or will we see Pac Man win yet another world championship belt, regaining the WBA super world welterweight title? Fight fans will get their answer at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, in the early hours of Sunday morning, UK time.
Fight fans are enjoying a living legend
Pacquiao is taking part in what will be his 72nd professional bout in a career that started with a four-round points decision in the Philippines 26 years ago. During his time as a prizefighter, Pac has achieved more than anyone could have ever expected of him. The 5ft 5inch southpaw has won world title belts in several weight categories, fought the best in the business and played his part in some memorable battles. Boxing followers are currently enjoying the career of a legend and man that will be spoken about for generations.
The challenger arrives in Vegas with a professional record detailing 62 wins against seven defeats and two draws. Of those victories, he has scored 39 knockouts but has been stopped twice himself. The last man to take Pacquiao out was Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, but he has suffered points defeats to Floyd Mayweather and Jeff Horn since. Recent form shows Pac is on a three-fight winning streak, having stopped Lucas Matthysse in seven before out-pointing Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman over the championship distance.
The pre-fight betting available to Betfair Exchange members has Manny priced at 1.384/11 to win this bout, and that will catch the attention of many. A third points victory on the bounce appeals at 2.1211/10, or you can try a 40th career KO/TKO win at 4.1.
Champion proves he's a fighting man
Ugas won the respect of fight fans worldwide when agreeing to face Pacquaio at late notice following the withdrawal of Spence. Not only was the Cuban born fighter eager to jump in and save the show, but he is also willing to put his WBA world title strap on the line. Whatever the result of this weekend's fight, the courage of Yordenis has won him many new fans, not least of all those who had purchased tickets.
He may be seen as an opponent to the world-famous Pacquiao, but that won't faze the 35-year-old. Ugas is the current keeper of the belt but has been allowed to prepare for this defence without pressure. All the focus is on Pac Man, and that will suit the Cuban who thrives on being written off and starting as the underdog. Yordenis has a pro record of 26 wins against four defeats. A dozen of his victories have been by stoppage, and he has never lost inside the distance himself.
Like his opponent, Ugas has won each of his last three. His most recent defeat came at the hands of Shawn Porter on a split decision in 2019. Yordenis may be the champion, but he is available at 4.1 to successfully defend his belt. The points win is 5.79/2, while a rare stoppage victory will net backers a chunky 10.519/2.
We're in for a long night
This bout will be more competitive than many late notice match ups and followers are in for a real treat when the action gets going. Pacquiao has been crying out for a shot at Ugas since the Cuban was awarded the belt Pac once owned without having to fight for it. The Filipino told fans he'll show Yordenis championships are won in the ring.
With four of the champion's last five fights travelling the distance and nine of Pac's ten also testing the judges, this is a bout that should take us long into the night. Bet on Pacquaio to claim a close points victory.