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Errol Spence Jr out, Yordenis Ugas in against Manny Pacquiao on August 21st

Ugas holds the WBA “super” welterweight title Pacquiao took from Keith Thurman in 2019

Errol Spence Jr. v Danny Garcia Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

PBC have confirmed that Errol Spence Jr has pulled out of his August 21st PPV main event against Manny Pacquiao with a torn retina. In his place steps WBA titleholder Yordenis Ugas, who was slated to defend his title against Fabian Maidana in the co-main event.

“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to fight Manny Pacquiao on August 21,’’ Spence said. “I was excited about the fight and the event. Unfortunately, the doctors found a tear in my left eye and said I needed to get surgery on it ASAP and that there was no way I could fight with my eye in that condition. I’d like to apologize to everyone. You know I’ll be back as soon back soon. We’ve come back from worse.’’

“First and foremost, I ask everyone to join me in praying for a full and complete recovery for Errol Spence Jr,’’ Pacquiao said. “Thank God his physical examination discovered his eye condition before he suffered any further damage. I have agreed to fight Yordenis Ugas on August 21 for the WBA welterweight super championship. The proper way and the only way to win a world title is inside the ring.”

“It’s an honor to fight the great multiple division world champion, Manny Pacquiao, as I am more than ready to take on this challenge,’’ Ugas said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pacquiao, but I am coming to win this fight. I’ve been in camp working hard with my coach Ismael Salas and I know together we will come up with a masterful game plan to combat anything Manny will bring to the ring. I wish Errol Spence Jr. a speedy recovery and I want to ensure the fans that I will be at my best for this fight.

“Everyone knows my story about how I came to America to follow my dreams of becoming a world champion, and now it’s time to stamp my legacy with a victory, as one of the best Cuban fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. I love my country and I want to dedicate this fight to all the men and women who are fighting for freedom.’’

The new matchup actually has something of a storyline behind it. “Pac-Man” (62-7-2, 39 KO) edged out Keith Thurman for the aforementioned title in 2019, while Ugas (26-4, 12 KO), whose only loss in the last seven years was a hugely controversial decision against Shawn Porter, claimed the “world” belt by beating Abel Ramos last September.

After nearly two years without a defense, the WBA elected to name Pacquiao “champion in recess” and elevate Ugas. Now, Pacquiao gets a chance to reclaim the belt he never lost in the ring.

As far as the matchup itself, it’s still a really good fight. Ugas remains one of the best welterweights in the game and figures to pose a stiff, if slightly more manageable, test for the Filipino legend. He’s been overdue for a big-name fight since the Porter debacle, so as much as it sucks to see the immensely entertaining Spence return to the shelf, at least there’s a silver lining.

It remains to be seen what the main card will look like after this; it presently features Victor Ortiz vs Robert Guerrero and Mark Magsayo vs Julio Ceja, while ESPN’s Salvador Rodriguez reports that Maidana suffered a cut during one of his final sparring sessions and will not fight on that date.

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