Evergreen Manny Pacquiao heads into possibly his last fight on Saturday night with one opponent staring him in the face – Father Time.
The 42-year-old boxing legend hailing from the Philippines is 25 years plus into his career as a professional. After a long hard slog at it, the “Pacman” will come out the other side with one of the best resumes ever.
So, two years and more from his last victory – which many believe was a super-human feat, can Manny Pacquiao do it against a fighter starved of love from the sport.
Yordenis Ugas, a little-known Cuban welterweight contender, wants to earn his way at the top. This scenario is his ideal opportunity.
The 35-year-old has been ridiculed for gaining Pacquiao’s title outside of the ropes and labeled an email champion, amongst other things.
Saying that, though, Ugas might be getting Pacquiao at the right time.
With Presidential duties on the horizon for a run in 2022, Pacquiao may have veered off his original blueprint after missing out of battling Errol Spence Jr.
In essence, that may be the only chance Ugas has – but it’s certainly a big one.
Plenty of talk before the fight has been out “Manny Pacquiao’s last fight” and “is this the end of Manny Pacquiao”.
Therefore, those doubts may have crept into the Senator’s head too. Pacquiao even admits that Ugas could be the hungrier of the two.
“This was a great opportunity. There was no way I was going to pass it up,” said Pacquiao. “Freddie and I worked every day those two weeks until the weigh-in. That is how we started to get to know each other.
“Ugás is in a similar situation. He was already training for a welterweight title fight on the same card as mine. So he, too, is ready to make the most of this opportunity.
“I know what Ugás feels because twenty years ago I was Ugás. I’m not taking him for granted. I am taking him as seriously as I took Errol Spence.
“I will not make the same mistake Ledwaba made with me. But I still have the same hunger to win. I live for it. I’ve had a great training camp, and I am well-prepared.
“I want to prove to everyone, especially Yordenis Ugás, that I am still here.”
On the belt situation unfathomably instigated by the WBA once again, Pacquiao added: “The WBA gave my title to Ugás.
“That is not how you become a champion. You earn it by winning it inside the ring. We will fight for the title. That is the proper way a champion gets crowned.”
Trainer Freddie Roach also discussed how a fighter thinks when handed an unexpected opportunity.
“What Manny had going for him when he fought Ledwaba (in his breakthrough last minute step-in) was that he was unknown in the U.S., which gave us the element of surprise.
“I don’t remember Sanchez being considered too tough an opponent, and I guess Ledwaba trained for that level of opponent.
“They obviously didn’t do their homework on Manny, which was lucky for us. The important lesson Manny and I learned from that fight was never underestimate your opponent.
“Take nothing for granted, and never cut corners in training. And Manny never has.
“He gives it everything he has every day of every training camp and respects every opponent who is brave enough to enter a ring.”
MANNY PACQUIAO vs. FATHER TIME
Teddy Atlas, who once oversaw the career of Mike Tyson, gave his view on the fight too. He says you can never rule out the veteran.
“We all know that saying; everyone has a plan until you hit them in the mouth. But with Manny, it’s more like, until you hit that hornets’ nest, and Manny is literally everywhere.
“When I evaluate a fighter, I look for dimensions, and Manny is like watching 3D where everything comes at you fast and from all directions.
“That’s the greatness of Manny, his combination of speed and power along with special instincts and a will to win.
“He’s never forgotten what he didn’t have, and he fights like he’s still looking for it.
“You can look at Manny Pacquiao as a Force of Nature. Like the ocean, he pulls you into counters, then pushes you back, catching you in retreat. The tide moving a piece of driftwood.
“His legs are the beach giving him the ability to strand opponents in space while his hands crash like waves. I’ve seen it up close. And it’s no day at the beach.”
Ugas may already be betting written off, but anyone in the sport will tell you that if Father Time comes for you – that’s an unstoppable force.
The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.