Unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. suffered an eye injury in training and has pulled out of his Aug. 21 bout against Manny Pacquiao. Yordenis Ugas, who holds the title that was taken from Pacquiao by the WBA, will step in to replace him.
A routine pre-fight eye exam ordered by the Nevada Athletic Commission revealed Spence has a torn retina in his left eye. He left Las Vegas on Tuesday to return home to Dallas. He will undergo surgery there and is expected to make a full recovery.
“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to fight Manny Pacquiao on August 21,’’ Spence said in a statement. “I was excited about the fight and the event. Unfortunately, the doctors found a tear in my left eye and said I needed to get surgery on it ASAP and that there was no way I could fight with my eye in that condition. I’d like to apologize to everyone. You know I’ll be back as soon back soon. We’ve come back from worse.’’
Sean Gibbons, the president of Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, told Yahoo Sports that Pacquiao is open to all options after the Ugas fight.
Both Gibbons and trainer Freddie Roach said Pacquiao had been on point and looking as good as he had in a while.
“The Senator is very disappointed about Errol Spence’s injury but is happy he still gets to compete,” Gibbons said. “He has been looking extraordinarily sharp in training and would have given a great performance against Spence.
“He’ll go ahead and fight Ugas, because he’s a fighter and that’s what he does. When that’s over, he’ll consider all of his options and that would include Errol.”
What may be a problem for Pacquiao to fight Spence later is that Pacquiao is expected to run for president of the Philippines in 2022.
Ugas had been set to take on Fabian Maidana on the Pacquiao-Spence undercard. He defeated Abel Ramos on Sept. 6, 2020, in Los Angeles to win a vacant WBA welterweight title. On Jan. 29, without any notice to Pacquiao, who had been the WBA super champion since beating Keith Thurman in 2019, the WBA deemed Pacquiao its champion in recess and gave Ugas the super champion designation.
“I guess we’ll find out who the real super champion in,” Gibbons said, laughing.
Ugas is 26-4 with 12 KOs and has won 11 of his last 12. His only defeat was a split decision loss to Shawn Porter on March 9, 2019.
He is eager to meet Pacquiao, he said.
“It’s an honor to fight the great multiple division world champion, Manny Pacquiao, as I am more than ready to take on this challenge,’’ Ugas said in a statement. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pacquiao, but I am coming to win this fight. I’ve been in camp working hard with my coach Ismael Salas and I know together we will come up with a masterful game plan to combat anything Manny will bring to the ring. I wish Errol Spence Jr. a speedy recovery and I want to ensure the fans that I will be at my best for this fight.
“Everyone knows my story about how I came to America to follow my dreams of becoming a world champion, and now it’s time to stamp my legacy with a victory, as one of the best Cuban fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. I love my country and I want to dedicate this fight to all the men and women who are fighting for freedom.’’
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