By Adrian Stewart Co
If there is someone who knows that late-replacement opponents like Yordenis Ugas should not be taken for granted, it is eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
The 42-year-old was himself a last-minute substitute in 2001 when he pulled off a massive upset against the late Lehlo Ledwaba for the IBF world super bantamweight championship, the fight that started his rise as a boxer.
Pacquiao said he sees himself in Ugas, who was tapped to replace undefeated American fighter Errol Spence Jr. due to an eye injury, and he knew that he should not be taken for granted.
“I know what Yordenis Ugas was feeling because, 20 years ago, I was Yordenis Ugas,” Pacquiao said. “I still remember that match against Ledwaba, I was a day away from going home to the Philippines when the fight was offered to me,” Pacquiao said.
“I was so excited. This was a great opportunity for me. There was no way I was going to pass it up,” he added. “Ugas is in a similar situation. And he too is ready to make the most of this opportunity.”
Pacquiao further said that he is even more motivated to beat Ugas after the latter was awarded with the World Boxing Association welterweight championship that he previously held.
“I am not taking him for granted. In fact I am taking him as seriously as I took Errol Spence,” the Filipino ring icon said. “I will not make the same mistake Ledwaba made with me.”
“I still have the same hunger to win. I live for it. I have had a great training camp and I am well-prepared. I want to prove to everyone, especially Yordenis Ugas, that I am still here,” he added.
Pacquiao will be entering the match with a 62-7-2 win-loss-draw ring record, with 39 stoppage wins, while Ugas will be parading an impressive 26-4-0 boxing slate, including 12 knockout victories.
The Pacquiao-Ugas clash will be shown on a slightly-delayed basis at GMA-7, TV5 and CNN Philippines beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. A live blow-by-blow coverage of the bout will be heard at DZBB AM starting at 9:00 a.m./ASC, WDJ