Manny Pacquiao took the eighth loss of his pro career on Saturday night, dropping a clear and fair decision to Yordenis Ugas in a WBA welterweight title fight on pay-per-view.
As much as any loss in his career — including a vicious knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and his frustrating night against Floyd Mayweather in 2015 — this one felt conclusive, but for a different reason.
Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KO) is now 42 years old. He hadn’t fought in just over two years. And he just didn’t have the feel in the ring, from an observer’s standpoint, of still being Manny Pacquiao at all.
Even when he was flailing and missing against Mayweather, he still kinda felt like Pacquiao, though past his prime by then, too. Even when Marquez iced him, he was winning the fight at the time. And even in 2019, when Keith Thurman did rally to make that a close fight on the cards, he still fought like Pacquiao for much of the fight.
But it just wasn’t there on Saturday. He didn’t move around much at all, far more of a stationary target than normal, and he admitted post-fight that his legs were “tight.” He threw more arm punches than we usually see. He couldn’t quite break the puzzle Ugas (27-4, 12 KO) presented, and he never developed a real rhythm, any sustained momentum in the fight.
Ugas was able to use an effective jab and a looping right hand to keep Pacquiao at bay and off-balance for much of the fight, from ever settling in like Manny Pacquiao and getting the fight on his terms. It wasn’t necessarily the most complicated or amazing plan from Ugas and his team, but it was executed very well — and Pacquiao, perhaps even more importantly, just didn’t have the legs or the energy to do much about it anymore.
The prevailing thought after the fight was that Pacquiao was probably lucky that it wasn’t a fit Errol Spence Jr across the ring from him on Saturday. Spence, who pulled out of the fight late with an eye injury, is a harder hitter than Ugas, and with Pacquiao not creating his famed angles and coming in with those serious bursts of attack, he might have been a sitting duck.
Styles make fights, of course, so maybe even a fit Spence wouldn’t have done any better or any more than Ugas did. But Pacquiao wasn’t going to beat Spence on Saturday in that form, and he didn’t beat Ugas, either.
And you have to wonder, if that’s what Manny Pacquiao is now, is he going to want to fight again? Manny didn’t commit to an answer on that, but he had said before the fight that this absolutely could be his last. Pacquiao seems like a guy, as I said earlier, who won’t want to hang around the boxing game just because he’s still good, and he is still good. If he can’t look himself in the mirror and fully believe he’s the best out there and can beat anyone at the weight, I just don’t think Manny Pacquiao will continue on in boxing.
Should he retire? In my opinion, yes. I’ve had the privilege of watching every live Manny Pacquiao fight for the last 15 years and covering them for this site. He’s one of the best of all-time, a bona fide legend and icon.
Manny Pacquiao was famous for taking a good shot or two, banging his fists together, and egging his opponent on. If you landed on him, he would roar back. That’s not there anymore. We did not see that guy on Saturday. At his age, it’s likely not going to come back to him.
If that was it, then hats off to a true all-time great. There may be nothing more he can prove at the highest levels, but he can also leave knowing there’s nothing more he needs to prove, either.