Yordenis Ugas defeated Manny Pacquiao in a masterful 12-round unanimous decision victory to retain the WBA welterweight championship on Saturday (Sunday Philippine time) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Filipino boxing icon was the more aggressive fighter throughout the fight, but it was not enough against the taller and younger Cuban former Olympian.
The three judges scored it 115-113, 116-112, 116-112, for Ugas.
The upset dropped Pacquiao’s record to 62-8-2 with 39 knockouts while Ugas improved to 27-4 with 12 knockouts.
Pacquiao was off to a quick start throwing jabs and combinations in the opening seconds of the contest. Ugas tried to keep the Filipino at bay with his jab and straight right hand that started to land in round two.
The eight-division world champion was barely punching in round three and when he did his combinations mostly landed on the gloves. Ugas, meanwhile, started to look confident throwing his right hand. Ugas waited and laid traps with his counter-punches in round 4.
Paquiao unloaded with lightning-quick combinations the following round but none of the punches bothered Ugas one bit. Ugas' overall punch output was low in round 7. He seems contented waiting for openings to land his counter while Pacquiao threw more by at least 200 power punches but was less accurate.
The Cuban started to come forward in round 8 throwing right hands that caught Pacquiao's attention. Ugas frequently unleashed his overhand right in round 9 but Pacquiao was able to block the punches with his glove.
Pacquiao and Ugas went toe to toe in round 10. Ugas’ right straight looked sharp and on point but would always get blocked whenever he switches to throwing an overhand instead.
Ugas unleashed his right hand over and over in round 11 as Pacquiao looked spent throwing his combinations. The Cuban looked to crack Pacquiao with his overhand right in the final round as the latter looked passive not throwing much until the last minute of the contest.
"A lot of respect for him, but I won the fight," Ugas said in Spanish after the match.
Pacquiao was gracious in defeat following the bout.
"I congratulate my opponent Yordenis Ugas for making it tough tonight and winning tonight. That's boxing," he said.
"I'm sorry we lost tonight, but I did my best. I apologize."
Pacquiao, 42, was supposed to challenge Errol Spence Jr. but the American fighter pulled out of the fight after suffering an eye injury.
Ugas, who hold the championship that Pacquiao was stripped of earlier this year due to inactivity, stepped in as a replacement
Earlier in the night, there were contrasting results for two Pinoy fighters as Mark Magsayo kept his unblemished record with a knockout of Julio Ceja in Round 10 of their WBC featherweight title eliminator while John Dato suffered his first career loss after Mexican boxer Angel Contreras.
—With reporting by Bea Micaller/JMB, GMA News