Boxing

Pacquiao Piggyback by Proxy

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Errol Spence is rightfully regarded as the top welterweight in the world. He’s undefeated. He owns the WBC and IBF welterweight titles. He has high-water mark victories over names such as Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, and Kell Brook. On April 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, he’ll be taking on WBA 147 lb. titlist Yordenis Ugas in a bid to become a 3-belt world champ in the division.

But he never got the big Manny Pacquiao fight he wanted.

He almost got it. Last year, he was slated to face the Filipino icon in what promised to be a passing of the torch bout and a step up to next-level fame and acclaim. Unfortunately, a torn retina that required surgery closed the door to his rumble with a legend.

Spence’s closed door, however, allowed for the door to be opened for Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas– and Ugas took full advantage of the opportunity, taking a unanimous decision over the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer back in August.

Since Ugas beat Pacquiao, Spence has had a lot of time to think about what he lost and where he can go next. His return to the ring against Ugas has been viewed by many as battle by proxy against Manny Pacquiao. How well he does against the fighter who retired Pacquiao will say a lot about just how good HE is.

While beating the man who beat the man is not as good as just beating the man, himself, it’s pretty much the next big thing. Really, it’s the only thing Spence can grasp at right now.

However, whenever he gets the chance, he seems to be downplaying this dynamic. Maybe slightly bothered by being measured against the memory of a legend or against the performance of another fighter against that memory, Spence is diminishing Ugas’ accomplishment by diminishing Manny’s status in the game at the time Ugas defeated him.

“I watched the Ugas vs. Manny Pacquiao fight live, but I haven’t watched it since then,” Spence recently told media. “I thought the way that fight went was more because of Manny Pacquiao being a shell of himself.”

That’s a pretty innocuous statement on its surface, but it’s pretty harsh when you pick away at the surface of the comment. Essentially, Spence is saying that Ugas is less of a fighter than we think because Pacquiao was a greatly diminished presence when he faced Ugas.

It could be the truth. Maybe Ugas did catch Manny at the perfect time. Maybe Manny WAS done as a high-end fighter. Maybe he had aged significantly since two years prior when he beat a Keith Thurman, who was thought to be no worse than a top 3 welterweight in the world at the time.

But that’s absolutely not how most of the rest of the boxing world sees things like this. Even those who acknowledge that Manny may have been a “shell” of his true self, will judge Spence’s high-end capabilities against the man who beat Manny, Ugas. That’s just how things work in the court of boxing public opinion.

Regardless, Spence says that he’s only focused on the task at hand and is looking forward to adding another welterweight belt to his collection.

“I’ve been looking forward to this fight since I had to drop out of the Pacquiao bout,” Spence affirmed. “I knew I would be fighting the winner…Now I’ve got Ugas in front of me. He’s a tough champion who’s been through a lot in his life.”

If he beats Ugas on April 16, though, it’s a pretty safe bet that Spence, at some level, will be celebrating the fact that he beat the man who beat Manny Pacquiao.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

2 comments

  • ed king says:

    So you are one of the many in America that thinks Ugas beat Pacquiao. How can you beat somebody when you are trained to fight somebody else, and that man Ugas have been training for exactly to fight Pacquiao from day 1. And Pacquiao have been training for Spence all along. I know you with a lot of others in America do not like Pacquiao to be the best legendary fighter of all time. That bloody monkey faced asian from some third world country… ..You are not alone, there is one who really hates that idea to come true. First and foremost he and only him, should be the number one. And that is the co-owner of Premier Boxing. And who else is that,,,,, mayweather with a small ‘m’. Imagine Pacquiao beating Spence like how Pacquiao beat de la hoya….. NO NO NO BLOODY HELL! MAYWEATHER AND PBC WILL NOT ALLOW THAT.. NO NO NO NO, IT WILL BE A COLD DAY IN HELL OF MAYWEATHER IF THAT HAPPENS. i will tell you what Mr. expert in boxing with more than what 20 years as a boxing journalist, the house will always have the best hand whatsoever. And that house is, the promoter and its owners. WHEN SPENCE IS ABOUT TO LOSE BIG TIME AGAINST PACQUIAO, MAYWEATHER’S LEGACY CAN BE THROWN BIG TIME IN THE BIN FOREVER TO BE WITH ALL THE FILTHY TRASH OF HIM BEING UNBEATEN. And so came the torn whatever and Ugas being ready to jump in. And what happen to Pacquiao, even though he is that dumb no think that he is being hoodwinked still continue with the fight coz he need badly the money for his doomed presidential ambition. And so the story such as what happen to Pacquiao and Horn, and Horn vs Crawford whom Arum wants to be the champion. Grow up Mr. Boxing experts, with your 20 years in the boxing world .you still live in a cave.

  • potot almoradie says:

    Ugas vs Pacqauio is just a money making fight but wait Pacman will return in 147 anyone will be kick out

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