Remember how happy you were on July 8th when you heard the news? Maybe you read it right here on NYFights.com.
“MANNY PACQUIAO & ERROL SPENCE JR. SQUARE OFF IN BATTLE FOR WELTERWEIGHT SUPREMACY TOPPING PAY-PER-VIEW EVENT ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 21
Unified WBC & IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr. Faces Eight-Division World Champion Manny Pacquiao in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Main Event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas”
We didn’t get Spence vs. Bud Crawford. We didn’t get Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. George Kambosos. We didn’t get Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua, and THEN we didn’t even get Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3. And we didn’t get Nonito Donaire vs. John Riel Casimero, my ultimate disappointment.
Ryan Garcia appeared like a New Year’s Day hangover hallucination and hasn’t been seen since. Don’t even ask about Mister Gary Russell Jr.
But at least we were getting the surprising, legacy-defining fight between the Fighting Pride of the Philippines and the power-punching Texan. The more we all heard about it, the more we thought about, the more we loved it.
Mid-afternoon Tuesday, yet another anticipated bout crashed and burned. Spence Jr. was forced to withdraw when his pre-fight medical exam by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in Las Vegas turned up a torn retina. Just like that, Spence Jr. was on his way home to Dallas for immediate surgery. This type of injury used to end careers, but there’s a great chance Spence Jr. will make a full recovery.
Oh, the irony of the next bit of news. WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas of Cuba, who was scheduled to fight in his first so-called “title defense” against Fabian Maidana on the undercard, will replace Spence Jr. Maidana seemed SOL, left without a dance partner. However, Maidana also withdrew due to injury the same day Spence Jr. did, so he isn't another victim in all this.
Follow me here. Ugas’s belt wasn’t won in the ring. Pacquiao won it in his stunning victory in 2019 over Keith Thurman. But a few months ago, the WBA saw fit to strip Pacquiao of the title for being “inactive” and bestowed it on Ugas as an interim title. The “interim” part was removed when Ugas “defended” the belt against Abel Ramos.
So let’s get this straight. Pacquiao and Ugas will be fighting for the WBA welterweight title, which rightfully belongs to Pacquiao, but got taken away from him for an unfathomable, bogus reason. With that title now in play rather than Spence Jr.’s WBC belt, the selection of the officials for the fight, including the judges and referee, falls to… uh huh, the World Boxing Association.
The same WBA whose judges rendered an utterly “batshit decision” in the words of our Tommy Rainone when it robbed Mykal Fox of the victory he earned and handed it to Gabriel Maestre. Boxing fans don’t agree on much, but they rose as one in protest against this awful injustice. Judge Gloria Martinez Rizzo, a Nicaraguan-born woman with strong conservative opinions about American and Venezuelan politics, did her best CJ Ross impersonation. WBA president Gilberto Mendoza has promised “an investigation” and, if warranted, “an immediate rematch.” Isn’t that nice.
Pacquiao and Ugas are set for a hurriedly arranged news conference on Wednesday with the boxing media. NYFights.com will report out any significant news. There are plenty of new questions to ask:
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) August 7, 2021
- Is the fight still going to cost fans $75 in pay-per-view fees?
- Was Ugas placed on the undercard as an understudy should either Pacquiao or Spence Jr. become unavailable?
- With COVID rates spiking in Las Vegas, what are the audience protocols at the T Mobile Arena on August 21?
- Why is Manny Pacquiao seen all over YouTube among throngs of fans (mostly but not all masked) performing impressive workouts? Shouldn’t he be kept away from folks since there’s plenty of Delta variant floating around LA? See the Twitter post above.
- And for God’s sake, is Ugas FULLY vaccinated?
Reader friend, this is why there is only one immutable truth about boxing in the modern era: Never make nonrefundable travel plans for a fight. Ever.