Manny Pacquiao: Twenty Years Ago I Was Yordenis Ugas
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA (August 16, 2021) — With undefeated WBC/IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence sidelined while he recovers from retina surgery, all eyes are on WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugás. Ugás stepped up from the card's co-main event and will defend his title against the legendary eight-division world champion and boxer laureate Senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, this Saturday, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It will be seen live as the main event on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
Twenty years ago, with only one world title to his name, unknown outside the Philippines, and idling in the junior featherweight division, Manny Pacquiao received a call from destiny.
IBF junior featherweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba, considered by most to be the class of the division, was scheduled to make a title defense against Enrique Sanchez in the co-main event of an HBO PPV card headlined by the Javier Castillejo – Oscar De La Hoya WBC super welterweight championship fight which took place on June 23, 2001. Two weeks before the fight, Sanchez was injured in training camp and the hunt was on for a replacement.
After a few name opponents rejected the fight, Manny, the IBF's No. 3 world-rated contender, received the offer, which he and his new trainer world-famous Freddie Roach readily accepted. The rest is history. From the opening bell, Manny was all over Ledwaba, busting him up from pillar to post until the fight was stopped in the sixth round.
“I was in very good shape since I had recently fought in the Philippines and had just begun to work with Freddie,” said Manny, who ends his Wild Card Boxing Club training camp today.
“I was a day away from going home to the Philippines when the fight was offered to me. I was so excited. This was a great opportunity. There was no way I was going to pass it up. Freddie and I worked every day those two weeks until the weigh-in,” he continued.
“That is how we started to get to know each other. Ugas 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 is feeling because twenty years ago I was Ugás. I am not taking him for granted. In fact I am taking him as seriously as I took Errol Spence. 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 Ugás, that I am still here. My title was given 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 is crowned.”
And what does Freddie think?
“What Manny had going for him when he fought Ledwaba was that he was unknown in the U.S. which gave us the element of surprise,” said Freddie. “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 lessons Manny and I learned from that fight were 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!”