Roach predicts KO for Manny

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Roach predicts KO for Manny

LAS VEGAS – There’s no doubt in Freddie Roach’s mind that Sen. Manny Pacquiao will knock out WBA welterweight “super” champion Yordenis Ugas of Cuba in their scheduled 12-round title fight at the T-Mobile Arena here Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila time). Buboy Fernandez, who also trains Pacquiao, said the same thing, adding that Ugas is a standing target with an upright body and arms that swing widely.

For nearly two months, Pacquiao trained at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles with Roach and Fernandez taking turns holding the mitts. They both said Pacquiao is well-prepared to do whatever it takes to bring down Ugas. Roach said Pacquiao hasn’t scored too many knockouts since invading the 147-pound ranks but against Ugas, he expects an abbreviated ending.

“Ugas isn’t the typical Cuban fighter who moves a lot,” said Roach. “He’s flat-footed, open in the middle, easy to hit. He throws a slow jab. He’s heavy upstairs and it makes him slow. I think it’ll be an easy fight but you can never underestimate an opponent. If you compare Ugas with any of Manny’s previous opponents, maybe he’s like David Diaz only Diaz is a southpaw.”

Roach said Ugas has been floored by left-handers, once in the amateurs and once in the pros but he got up to finish both fights on his feet. “Ugas gave (Shawn) Porter a tough time and lost a split decision which could’ve gone the other way,” said Roach. “You don’t want to fight Ugas up close. Manny will know how to deal with him.”

Fernandez said Ugas reminds him of Ghana’s Joshua Clottey and veteran Filipino plodder Bert Cano. Clottey clammed up and stood his ground to take Pacquiao’s punches but hardly threw in losing a lopsided decision in 2010. Cano made a name for himself as a hard-hitting spoiler nicknamed Toy Bulldog and retired in 2007. “Hablig mga suntok ni Cano na parang swimmer kung bumitaw,” said Fernandez. “Ganoon si Ugas. At ang katawan ni Ugas parang kay Clottey na steady lang sa gitna, ‘di gumagalaw.” When Pacquiao turns Ugas around to create angles for his punches, Fernandez said the Cuban wouldn’t know how to react.

A Team Pacquiao staffer said it was a blessing in disguise that Ugas replaced Errol Spence who was the original opponent until he was forced to withdraw with a detached retina in the left eye. “Imagine if Spence fought Manny with that injury, he could’ve ended up blind and it would be in Manny’s mind the rest of his life,” he said. “And when Spence backed out, Ugas was right there to take his place because his own opponent got injured in sparring. Actually, Ugas was in the undercard to fight (Fabian) Maidana as an insurance in case anyone got COVID. That’s how promoters now line up their fights. When Manny found out about Spence, he prayed to God and put his trust in the Lord. And look what happened? The fight’s still on.”

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