In front of what was a meager gathering of fans, the grand arrivals of Manny Pacquiao and Yordenis Ugas was staged on Tuesday afternoon outside the T-Mobile Arena.
Now, to be fair, you couldn't have expected too large of a throng given that its a weekday afternoon in the typically scorching Las Vegas heat. But it is clearly an indication that there is muted interest in this event after Errol Spence was taken off the marquee after undergoing surgery on his left eye last week.
In his place is Ugas, the defending WBA welterweight champion. And to be quite frank, much of the luster has been taken off this card given the fact that Pacquiao-Spence was the most anticipated fight of the summer schedule.
This was a match-up that could either lead to Pacquiao further cementing his already legendary status, or launching Spence into being a transcendent figure beyond the casual boxing fan. This is a fight that truly had high stakes and great meaning.
Well...it's still a solid match-up. While Pacquiao is the clear favorite(about 3.5 to 1), Ugas isn't your garden variety 11th hour replacement.
While it's easy to dismiss anyone with an WBA title, Ring Magazine has him rated fifth in the division (behind the likes of Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Pacquiao and Shawn Porter). He is by all accounts legitimate world-class 147 pounder.
Like many of his Cuban compatriots, this amateur standout found out the hard way that professional prizefighting is much different than boxing for trophies and medals for your home country. He began punching for pay in 2010 as he moved to the States, and eventually was signed by Top Rank. Legend has it that he was signed to the company after Bob Arum saw Ugas resplendent in an all-white suit at a weigh-in, and was intrigued by the possibilities.
The only problem was that early on he looked better than he fought. After dropping an eight round verdict to journeyman Johnny Garcia in his 12th pro outing, he was released by the company soon after. In 2014 after dropping consecutive fights to Emanuel Robles and Amir Imam, his record stood at 15-3. Ugas' future looked bleak.
But to his credit, after taking 2015 off, he began his career renaissance by defeating the 20-0 Jamal James, and then handing Bryant Perella (14-0 coming in) his first pro defeat as the B-side. He has since followed up with victories over Thomas Dulorme, (not that) Ray Robinson and Omar Figueroa.
From 2016 to 2020, Ugas has compiled a record of 11-1, with that lone loss being a very disputed decision versus Shawn Porter in March of 2019 that most observers had the Cuban winning. That looked very much like a 'business decision' weighted in favor of the fighter who was destined to face the aforementioned Spence later that year in a memorable unification bout.
Ugas does not have the star power of Spence, or command the respect of WBO belt-holder, Terence Crawford, but he is a real pro. And one that has forged a respectable career and has certainly paid his dues in the sport. Ironically, several months ago he thought he had a deal to face Spence in the summer, only to be leap frogged by 'the Pac Man'.
As they say, want to make God laugh?
Ugas is a technically sound boxer, who has at least a few inches in height on Pacquiao. He also possesses a high boxing IQ. The downside is that he got this fight on relatively late notice (and while that certainly applies to Pacquiao, it can be argued that it's much easier to replicate what Ugas does inside the ring, as compared to the southpaw whirlwind style of the Filipino senator) and he has shown to be a bit chinny in the past.
But it's a fight, one that might actually turn out to be fairly entertaining. Also, this could be the last time we get to see Pacquiao ply his trade. That in itself is meaningful.
So while it's no longer this huge celebratory occasion, and it may lack all-around star power, it is satisfactory considering the circumstances.
So how did Spence pulling out of the card, effect things at the box-office?
Jim Boone of KO Tickets admits that it's had a real (negative) impact at the gate.
"It goes to show you that Manny Pacquiao is obviously a great ticket seller by himself, and Errol Spence has become a great ticket seller by himself. But when you put the two together it was just that dynamic match-up, it's a must-see fight. From day one, they sold a lot of tickets," Boone told SNAC.com this week.
"Unfortunately, it just took a lot of wind out of the sails. I had a couple of really strong ringside orders, actually three best ones I had, cancelled," lamented Boone, who says he doesn't blame his customers ("It's their money."), and that coming off the aftermath of the cancelled event between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, that, ''the consumer is getting tired of this happening over and over."
So any advice for those who are still coming into Las Vegas for the weekend?
Boone, who is one of the most trusted ticket brokers in the industry, stated, "To be honest, if you're a fan who bought seats, the best thing is to refund them, and re-buy in because the prices have gone down. They've slashed face value since the news. So why pay $500 for the seat for Spence, when you can have the same seat now for $300."
The new main event, has even impacted Boone's plans. He was to have been in Las Vegas the whole week, but now will be working from his office in Wisconsin.
"I would tell the fans who still want to go, they released more seats. You have to understand the casino has a block of seats for the fight," said Boone. "Clearly, they've had a lot of cancellations, too. So if you want tickets, they're available direct at AXS.com. It's the official vendor for T-Mobile Arena. The prices are less, it's a good selection, and it's still going to be a great fight if fans want to go.
''You're going to get a good deal to see a really good fight.
OK, after a one-week hiatus (hey, Mario Lopez was incredibly busy with taping of 'Saved by the Bell', and he got bills to pay) is back. And we review Vergil Ortiz's latest victory, preview Pacquiao-Ugas and Mario discusses his weekend plans in Las Vegas
This pay-per-view card, which is being distributed by Fox, also includes: Victor Ortiz-Robert Guerrero, Mark Magsayo-Luis Ceja and Carlos Castro-Oscar Escandon....Keith Idec of Boxingscene.com reports that the Showtime card featuring the 122-pound unification bout between Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton has been moved to Sept 18 and will take place at Park MGM in Las Vegas....I was remiss in not mentioning the recent passing of Anibal Miramontes, who was a true boxing guy who devoted his life to the sport. My condolences to his friends and loved ones....To me, there is no better source for tickets than Mr. Boone, he can be reached at: 702-591-1638 and his handle on Twitter is: kotickets....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org