Pacquiao breaks Los Angeles camp, enters fight week with uncertain future

Dino Maragay - Philstar.com
Pacquiao breaks Los Angeles camp, enters fight week with uncertain future
Manny Pacquiao is all smiles in his last morning run in Los Angeles Monday (Tuesday, Manila time)
Wendell Alinea / MP Promotions

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao tapered off his six-week Los Angeles training that had been momentarily disrupted by a last-minute opponent change, heading to Las Vegas for his first fight after a two-year layoff caused mainly by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally set to clash with fellow welterweight star Errol Spence Jr. in a bout that had both casual and hardcore boxing fans drooling in excitement, Pacquiao now faces Yordenis Ugas — a relatively unknown alphabet-soup champion whose physique and overall ability should trump his inferior marketability.

Ugas, a 5-foot-9 former Olympian with a respectable record (the Cuban is 26-4, with 12 KOs), salvaged what could’ve been an entirely botched event after Spence had been diagnosed with a torn retina that put him out of commission against Pacquiao.

The WBA “super” welterweight champion — interestingly a title originally bestowed to Pacquiao — had been strategically slated to be bumped up from the undercard to the main event in case of an injury to Spence, which eventually happened. 

And while the identity of Pacquiao’s opponent here at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) is already certain, his future in boxing is not.

Politics is inevitably knocking on Pacquiao’s door, and though the fighting senator hasn’t announced anything definite yet, he is considered among the early contenders for the Philippine presidency.

And with the presidential elections set next year, a formal commitment from Pacquiao to run for the highest office in the land will automatically put his boxing career in the backseat. 

The Filipino icon himself hinted that his future as a professional boxer would be up in the air after challenging Ugas.

“I hope that you're going to watch this fight. This is going to be a good fight. It might be my last fight,” he told boxing videographer Elie Sechback of EsNews after his final morning run in the City of Angels Monday (Tuesday in Manila).

“Or there may be more,” he added.

It will be determined first by how Pacquiao deals with Ugas, who hit the jackpot twice already — first when he was promoted from the “regular” WBA 147-pound champion to “super” status, thanks to Pacquiao’s inactivity; then second when he ended up as Pacquiao’s dance partner.

The 35-year-old Cuban has stepped into the same role as Pacquiao had in 2001 when he fought and stunned South African world champion Lehlo Ledwaba on a two-week notice.

“I know what Ugás is feeling because 20 years ago, I was Ugás. I am not taking him for granted,” said Pacquiao.

From the City of Angels, it’s the Sin City for fight week — indeed maybe the last of Pacquiao’s storied career.

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