BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on August 23, 2021

End of the Road?

There's no joy in Mannyville.

In front of a throng of more than 17,000 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this past weekend, Manny Pacquiao was defeated by the well-schooled Yordenis Ugas, who's tall, upright boxing never let the legendary Filipino get on track.

At the end of the night, two judges had it 116-112 for Ugas, the other 115-113. The fight was fairly close, with a number of tight rounds, but this was the Cuban's night. The fight played out at his temp throughout, and Ugas kept 'the Pac Man' at bay with his rapier left jab and long looping right hands.

While some will argue that Pacquiao should've been given the benefit of the doubt, Ugas deserved the decision.

Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham of TGB Promotions

It's clear, Pacquiao at age 42, coming off a 25 month layoff, simply didn't have the foot speed or ability to close the gap with the frenetic quickness that was once his trademark. There were flashes of it, as he did let his hands go liberally, but he was never able to consistently sustain his attack to a point where he could put Ugas on his back foot.

He probably saw openings that he couldn't take advantages. Punches that were there to be landed, missed by a fraction of an inch. Jabs that Pacquiao saw coming, he simply couldn't get out of the way off. He didn't necessarily get beat up, but there was clear physical slippage that was evident. 

Pacquiao complained of his legs cramping up early in the bout. Well, that's what happens to older athletes.

But this is not to throw dirt on Pacquiao, or to disparage him. To the contrary, this is should be a celebration. Once again he actually performed at a pretty high level versus a world-class opponent, but at this point he is no longer 'super' Pac Man, but a mere mortal. One that Father Time has finally caught up to. If this is the end, it's still an honorable way to go out. 

Branch Rickey, a baseball executive best known for taking a chance on Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers, had a firm belief that it was best to let an aging player go a year too early, rather than a year too late.

Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham of TGB Promotions

Unfortunately in boxing, many simply leave the sport much too late. The likes of Rocky Marciano and Lennox Lewis are rare. For Pacquiao stepping away from the game after beating Keith Thurman -- an undefeated champion who is a decade his junior -- would've been the perfect ending to this storybook career. 

Unfortunately, boxing doesn't have many happy endings, much less perfect ones.

But this wasn't Joe Louis getting beat into submission by Marciano, Larry Holmes having his way with a zombie-like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard getting overwhelmed by the athleticism of Terry Norris, or Bernard Hopkins getting knocked clear out of the ring by Joe Smith. 

I've said in the past that boxing doesn't give out gold watches on the way to retirement -- it hands out beatings. Pacquiao, just lost a hard fought boxing match. That in itself is admirable. The ovation he received after the decision was read on Saturday was indicative of the appreciation the general public. He long ago became more than just a boxer of note, but a true global star, and now a statesmen.

Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham of TGB Promotions

Sure, there is a chance that he has a farewell fight (or three) in the Philippines or perhaps a final world-tour (after all, St. Money Pacquiao loves -- and needs money -- just like any one else) but right now his career record stands at 62-8-2 (39 KOs), which spanned over a quarter century and world titles in eight weight classes. 

But that alone doesn't tell the whole story of this career. Maybe Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. in Mexico comes close, but there hasn't been a boxer as important to his country and his people as Pacquiao in the Philippines. He then became a national brand in the States and an iconic figure internationally. No, his career wasn't completely free of scandals and suspicions, but it was still an unforgettable ride.

“In the future, you may not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring,” Pacquiao said. “I don’t know. Let me rest first, relax and make a decision if I’ll continue to fight or not.”

He was typically classy self in the immediate aftermath of this defeat:  “Congratulations to Ugas and his team. Thank you to all of you. I want to thank all my fans and the media. For many decades, the press, media and boxing fans were always behind us, supporting us. That’s why we’re here, why we became popular and why we accomplished our dreams as a fighter."

Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham of TGB Promotions

Heading into his future, many believe he has presidential aspirations. If anything can you prepare for the crooked world of power and politics, it's the boxing racket. Regardless, Pacquiao's don't come along often, and they aren't easily forgotten.

“I am a fighter outside and inside the ring. I look forward to returning to the Philippines and helping them during this pandemic.”

UNDERCARD

The Pacquiao-Ugas undercard was entertaining.

- It began with Carlos Castro, a really clean technician, who gut buzzed late in the first and was involved in a fire fight early on against Oscar Escandon, but his superior skills and sharp combinations eventually wore down Escandon who is built like a muscular fire hydrant. Castro, who is rated in the top five at 122 by the WBC, IBF and WBO, scored a 10th round TKO.

- In the best and most dramatic bout of the card, featherweight Mark Magsayo after a blazing start (where he floored Ceja in the opening stanza) found himself on the deck in the fifth, and was hurt more than once to the body by the hard-charging Mexican. Down 87-82 and 86-83 on two cards, Magsayo sprung to life in the 10th frame and uncorked a huge right hand that knocked out Ceja.

It was certainly an entertaining bout with an unforgettable finish, but it left you questions about Magsayo moving ahead. Ceja was really a natural 115-pounder, and it's clear that future foes of Magsayo will be targeting him downstairs.

Photo Credit: Sean Michael Ham of TGB Promotions

- Then in 'the Hot Tube Time Machine' bout between welterweights Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz, we had two older guys who gave it their all for 10 rounds. The action was really heated in the early stages, then dragged on a bit late. Still, overall it wasn't a bad fight. Guerrero would get the nod 96-94 across the board from all three judges. 

FINAL FLURRIES

I will delve deeper into the career of Pacqiuao in another column down the line as he makes his decision on his boxing future. Personally, I hope he walks away into the Manila sunset... Two stories to keep an eye out on this upcoming week: the WBO purse bid for the bout between Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter. The WBO championship committee still has to set an official date on that, as of the weekend... Also what will Triller do with the IBF lightweight title bout between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos? Will they find a huge site fee to off-set the $6 million they put up for this fight, or just punt this whole thing?...I wonder what was going through the mind of Errol Spence on Saturday evening.... Football season is quickly approaching... HBO 'Hard Knocks' remains high quality stuff... I've been binge watching 'A Different World' recently. I can't lie, I've done a total 180 on 'Whitley' (played by Jasmine Guy), that character is hilarious. It's not the same when she's not in the scenes....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com....

About Author
End of the Road?
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.