Manny Pacquiao to face fresh opponent after Errol Spence Jr suffers eye injury

Filipino will now fight WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas on August 21

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Manny Pacquiao will face WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas after Errol Spence Jr was forced to withdraw from their August 21 title bout due to injury.

Pacquiao, the 42-year-old eight-division world champion, was due to meet undefeated WBC and IBF welterweight champion Spence at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, August 21.

Spence, who recovered from a near-fatal car crash in late 2019 to return in December and dominated Danny Garcia on points, has won all 27 pro bouts, with 21 coming via knockout.

However, Spence, 31, revealed on Tuesday that he has been forced to step down on medical grounds because of a retinal tear in his left eye.

Philippines fighter Pacquiao will instead face Cuba's Ugas, who was due to make his first defence against Fabian Maidana in the co-feature of the Spence-Pacquiao card.

In a statement on Premier Boxing Champions’ website, Spence said: “I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to fight Manny Pacquiao on August 21.

“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 apologise to everyone. You know I’ll be back soon. We’ve come back from worse.”

Pacquiao said: "First and foremost, I ask everyone to join me in praying for a full and complete recovery for Errol Spence Jr. Thank God his physical examination discovered his eye condition before he suffered any further damage."

Pacquiao, who boasts a 62–7–2 record, last professionally boxed in 2019 when he beat Keith Thurman by split decision for the WBA welterweight title.

But the Philippine senator was stripped of the crown in January due to inactivity.

While preparing for the bout with longtime trainer Freddy Roach in Los Angeles, Pacquiao insisted the layoff had "helped my body and my mind a lot.

"This time around, I'm as excited as ever and feeling like I'm young again," he said.

His experience could be a bonus as he readjusts to take on Ugas, a 35-year-old Miami-based Cuban who owns a record of 26-4 with 12 knockouts. Ugas beat Abel Ramos last September and was installed as WBA champion after Pacquiao was stripped of the belt.

Pacquiao added: “I have agreed to fight Yordenis Ugas on August 21 for the WBA welterweight super championship. The proper way and the only way to win a world title is inside the ring.”

Ugas said it would be "an honour" to meet Pacquiao in the ring.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pacquiao, but I am coming to win this fight," he said.

“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."

Updated: August 22, 2021, 8:04 AM