Manny Pacquiao is on a mission to reclaim his WBA welterweight title when he takes on Yordenis Ugas in their hotly anticipated fight on Sunday (AEST).
The 42-year-old boxing icon hasn’t fought since 2019 but is the clear favourite to defeat Ugas, who is the current WBA welterweight champion.
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Pacquiao was originally set to fight IBF/WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr, but he pulled out of the fight only a couple of weeks ago after sustaining a torn retina to his left eye.
Ugas was already on the fight card and was elevated to the main bout with Pacquiao, which has been billed as a grudge match.
In his most recent fight back in 2019, Pacquiao defeated Keith Thurman via split decision, before taking the rest of 2019 and all of 2020 off.
Due to the long gap between fights, the WBA appointed Pacquiao “Champion in Recess”, effectively stripping him of his championship and leaving the title vacant.
During that time, Ugas won three consecutive fights and was elevated to the full titleholder in the WBA’s welterweight division.
The manner in which that decision came about had Pacquiao fuming and he expressed his desire to win back his title from the man that took it off him.
“I didn’t like that someone took my belt without challenging me in the ring,” he said at the pre-fight press conference.
The former eight-division world champion had some more fighting words for Ugas, saying he will look to knock him out if the opportunity arises.
“If there’s a chance for a knockout, then I’ll go for it because that’s what I want to give to the fans,” Pacquiao said. “Both of us are champions, but we’ll see who has the belt after (the fight).”
Ugas is ready to take on one of the most successful fighters in boxing history.
“Let’s see if he’ll get the belt,” he said. “I’m ready to go and there are no excuses.”
The 35-year-old’s trainer Ismael Salas took a thinly-veiled swipe at Pacquiao’s claim he will be able to knock Ugas out.