Manny Pacquiao is currently a -360 betting favorite over his opponent this Saturday, Yordenis Ugas.
That makes the Filipino icon a pretty firm favorite in the pay-per-view main event versus Cuba’s Olympic bronze medalist and current WBA welterweight champ. But what if Ugas flipped the script and managed to score the upset at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas?
First and foremost, a loss could mean the end of Pacquiao’s long, legendary 26-year career. Honestly, at 42 years of age and with a reported desire to run for President of the Philippines next year, even a win could be the end for Manny. But a defeat– especially a fairly decisive (or REALLY decisive) loss– would almost surely force closure to his Hall of Fame career.
While beating Pacquiao would be a major feather in the cap of Ugas and probably lead to more money and opportunities in the coming months, it’s doubtful that it could do all that much for the earnest, but unspectacular Cuban. It’s doubtful that Ugas could use the win over Manny as a piggyback ride to crossover stardom as Pacquiao’s original opponent Errol Spence would’ve been able to do. Speaking little-to-no-English and sporting a style more likely to make for interesting stylistic matchups rather than fan-pleasing wars, Ugas would fatten up his bank account a bit, post-Pacquiao, but that would be about it.
If Ugas defeats Pacquiao, the direct result would probably be a scramble to make Yordenis Ugas vs. Errol Spence (once Spence recovers from the retinal tear that caused him to withdraw from the Pacquiao fight in the first place). For Spence, beating the man who beat the man would be as close as he’ll get to a next-level piggyback ride.
One of the biggest downsides to a Pacquiao loss would be the power and star-power vacuum created when Manny is no longer a part of the scene.
The welterweight division would be left with an injured Errol Spence, a Terence Crawford who is walled off from the rest of the top welterweights, a cast of capable, but not star-powerful contenders (such as Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, and Ugas), and a wait on the emergence of young future stars Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Jaron Ennis.
It wouldn’t be a totally barren landscape, but things would shrink considerably without the drawing power and big name recognition of Manny Pacquiao drifting around as the ultimate welterweight target.
Who knows, though? Maybe the elimination of that ultimate big fight target would force the other fighters in the division to more readily pursue bouts with one another. Maybe without the possibility of a Manny payday out there, Spence and Crawford would be more willing to match up against one another for the best payday realistically available.
Of course, it’s always possible that, even in defeat, Manny could come back for at least one more farewell fight. He’ll still be a draw no matter what happens on August 21 and would still be a top 5 or top 6-level welter who could beat anyone on any given night. Very few fighters retire when they are still competitively viable, leaving massive mounds of money still on the table. And, if Manny were to become President, how cool would it be to see a sitting leader of a nation go to war in the ring?
A loss for Pacquiao this Saturday would not be an earth-shattering event, but it would significantly alter the present tense realities of the welterweight division. While the upset is unlikely, there actually is a real path to victory for Ugas. It’s definitely not out of the question.
Fans will just have to wait and see what happens in Las Vegas this weekend. Boxing will go on from there.