LAS VEGAS — For all the talk about Manny Pacquiao having trained for a southpaw in Errol Spence Jr. only to have to switch at the last moment to an orthodox fighter in Yordenis Ugas, it overlooks one key point:
That’s how long it’s been since last we saw the legendary Filipino in the ring. He hasn’t fought since defeating Keith Thurman by split decision on July 20, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Since then, he’s been more focused on his political career than he has been on boxing.
I’m not all that concerned about Pacquiao having to do an about-face to fight a right-hander after he trained so long for a left-hander, because he’s experienced and that comes second-nature to him.
But he’s also four months shy of his 43rd birthday and this is by far the longest layoff of his career. He’s a guy who thrives on activity and fights far more often than his peers.
Now, he’s coming back after more than two years away and is a massive -350 favorite at BetMGM to defeat Ugas, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
Ugas is a quality fighter, though he’s not in Pacquiao’s class. And if this were a six- or nine-month layoff, I’d have no hesitation in laying the -350 and betting Pacquiao.
But I don’t know how a 42-year-old is going to react to that time off. One could make the argument that his body is rested and that will be an advantage, but it could also have the affect of throwing off his timing.
Pacquiao is no longer a knockout puncher, and has scored just one finish in the last 11-plus years. Ugas is a sturdy, rangy fighter who went 12 hard rounds with Shawn Porter. It’s highly unlikely this fight ends in a finish.
To me, the play is Pacquiao by decision, which is +135 at BetMGM. It may take Pacquiao a while to get into the fight after the layoff, but once he finds his rhythm, he should be fine. Ugas isn’t a KO puncher, either, and it’s unlikely Pacquiao would get caught with that one clean shot that would finish him.
So once "Pacman" gets his feet under him, he should cruise. I’ll lay two units on him to win by decision so I’ll risk $200 in the hope of winning $270.
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