Manny Pacquiao vs. Yordenis Ugas Best Bets

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The boxing world was set to experience a matchup between future hall of famer Manny Pacquiao and WBC welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr this Saturday in Las Vegas, but fate had a different plan. The undefeated American champion suffered a torn retina while training for the fight in a sparring match and could miss up to a year in recovery after surgery. This unfortunate turn of events left Manny Pacquiao staring at a new opponent for Saturday in the form of WBA champion Yordenis Ugas.

Ugas presents an interesting change of opponent for Pacquiao considering that late-minute switches can have a dramatic effect on the preparation for the fight (and betting odds). For example, Errol Spence was a dangerous undefeated southpaw with 21 knockouts over 27 bouts. The newly-added Cuban champion Ugas sports an orthodox stance (right-handed) with just 12 knockouts over 26 victories and four losses.

Since the change of opponent took place, there has been a massive shift in betting which has transformed Manny Pacquiao from a +240 underdog against Errol Spence into a heavy -358 favorite against Yordenis Ugas. So what kind of wager should you look to make this weekend?

manny tale tape
manny tale tape

A Look at the Fight

Ugas carries a 69-inch reach, which is shorter than Spence's 72 inches, but still two inches longer than Pacquiao. However, this may be the only advantage the Cuban champion has over the Filipino legend. The mistake for anyone placing a bet would be to right off Ugas completely as he is what some like to call a “live dog.”

The 35-year-old Ugas has a strong right hand that needs to be respected but lacks the patience to pick his spots. This could lead to a very exciting fight with Ugas pressing the action and moving forward. However, due to his wild nature and inferior footwork, this could lead to Pacquiao putting him on the canvas if not careful. At 42, Pacquiao may not be the dangerous threat he once was, but there is plenty to fear in his experience and talent.

A Wrinkle To Betting on a Pacquiao Fight

When it comes to making a wager, there is usually plenty of value to be had betting on the underdog in fights that involve a superstar. Underdogs tend to spark the imagination of the betting public with their narratives and the possibility of a huge payday. This is a mistake at all times and I would advise against this type of thinking.

This is not to say you should not bet on an underdog. You should simply not be doing it for that reason, especially in this case. First of all, even when the public flood the sportsbook with wagers on the underdog, the fight favorite will always get a huge surge of bets placed by betting veterans right near the fight. They know better, no pun intended.

In this particular case, you will not see this trend. Manny Pacquiao has an incredibly loyal fanbase that bets early and often on their champion. The odds were quickly set to make Pacquiao the heavy favorite and those odds are likely to remain the same because of it.

Strategy to Bet

Pacquiao was able to knock down Keith Thurman in the first round of his latest fight, which could lead you to believe that the Filipino superstar could make quick work of Ugas. Not so fast. That bout with Thurman was two years ago and Pacquiao may have caught an overly aggressive Thurman off guard early in the fight. The 42-year-old did end up securing a split-decision victory during the contest due to his veteran tactics, hand speed and footwork, but ended up landing just 113-of-340 punches thrown.

Ugas, the former Cuban Olympian, has proven in the past that he will take the fight to his opponent, which leaves him vulnerable to attack. However, Ugas has also proven the ability to absorb a mass amount of punishment. If a knockout were to occur, it would likely be due to Pacquiao’s counter-punching ability rather than pure power.

The fact is that 14 of Pacquiao’s last 16 bouts have gone to the scorecards. He was once one of the premier knockout threats in boxing during his prime but has since become a more defensive boxer as the years have gone by. If you add this to the fact that Ugas has been able to reach the championship rounds in four of his last five fights, then you have a likely 12-round decision on your hands.

This is not to dismiss a knockout. Ugas will be coming out of the gate hungry and aggressive against the legendary Pacquiao, but he is not the threat that Errol Spence would have been and does not pack the same punch. Pacquiao could decide to simply take the safe and calculated approach against Ugas in order to secure a possible future fight with Errol Spence, but he will still be prepared to capitalize on any mistakes the wild right-hander throws.

The smart money is to take the -176 on this fight going the distance while also taking the +100 on Manny Pacquiao taking this fight by a decision as well. Betting on a knockout is always fun, but it’s not worth the +162 juice considering the circumstances.

Undercard Bet

The undercard on Saturday showcases two entertaining fighters past their prime with Robert Guerrero versus Victor Ortiz. This fight would have been fantastic 10 years ago when each fighter was a world champion, but it could still make for an exciting bout.

gurr vs ortiz
gurr vs ortiz

Ortiz has not been in the ring since 2018 when he earned a draw against Devon Alexander but has never truly been the same since losing to Floyd Mayweather back in 2011. Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero is now 38-years-old (four years older than Ortiz) and has also not been in the ring since the beginning of 2019.

Guerrero is 3-0 over his last three bouts while Ortiz comes in a 1-1-1, but this dates all the way back to 2016 in a fight against Andre Berto. It is difficult to truly know what to expect given their age and time away from the ring, but Guerrero is certainly the more active and disciplined of the two.

The advice here would be to not bet as each fighter, especially Ortiz, has a history of volatility which opens up the range of outcomes. However, if you were compelled to place a wager then chasing down the best odds you can on a Guerrero victory is your best bet. You can try to find -140 if you can, but -150 is the going rate. Good luck on Saturday.

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