Manny Pacquiao has apologised to his fans and said he will take some time out to consider his future after a shock defeat to Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas.
The Miami-based Cuban was only drafted in as a late replacement for the injured Errol Spence Jr on August 10 but produced an impressive display to seal a unanimous decision and retain his WBA super welterweight title.
Ugas, 35, frustrated Pacquiao and dominated with his jab to take the honours on all three cards — 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112 — in front of a 17,438 supporters at the T-Mobile Arena.
It was a largely pro-Pacquiao crowd which showed that even after a lengthy lay-off and competing in the latter stages of a glittering career, the Filipino remains a hugely popular fighter and a big draw in boxing.
The 42-year-old threw 815 punches but landed only 130 of them and had no complaints about the verdict. “I don't know,” he said afterwards after being asked if he was going to retire, while also sending a message to fans that hinted at a goodbye. “I need to relax and make a decision [about his future].
“I'm so thankful to the fans, for coming here to witness the fight. I'm really, really appreciative of your effort to come here, in spite of the pandemic. I'm sorry that we lost tonight, but you know, I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough. I apologise.
“No excuses. I wanted to fight for the title in the ring, and tonight the champion is named Ugas.”
Pacquiao must now decide whether the time is right to call time career that saw him become the only man to win world titles in eight divisions — his record stands at 62 wins, eight defeats and two draws.
“In the future, you may not see Manny Pacquiao again to fight in the ring,” he added. “I don’t know, but I’m so happy for what I’ve accomplished.
“I hope that in my more than 20 years in boxing, I [gave] you enjoyment and happiness in my career.
“I congratulate my opponent … for making it tough tonight, and for winning tonight. That's boxing.”
It was Pacquiao's first fight since defeating Keith Thurman for the WBA welterweight title in July 2019 — and the lack of ring-time showed.
He was stripped of his title in January because of that inactivity and Ugas — who beat Abel Ramos for the vacant WBA regular welterweight title in September 2020 — was elevated to super WBA champion.
“I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments … my legs were tight.” Pacquiao added, suggesting that age and over-training might have contributed to his below-par performance. “I think it was too much hard work. But I'm not young any more. So I don't know.”
For Ugas, it was a career high point leaving him with a record of 27 wins and four defeats. He defected from Cuba two years after winning a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and quit boxing for two years at one point but came back to the ring and beating Pacquiao was his 12th victory in 13 fights.
He was due to make his first title defence against Fabian Maidana, but was promoted from the undercard to face Pacquiao when Spence Jr was forced to drop out last week after discovering he had a torn retina during a pre-fight physical.
“I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today,” Ugas said through a translator. “We only had two weeks of training, but I listened to my corner and it all worked out.
“I told you I am the champion of the WBA and I showed it tonight. A lot of respect for him, but I won the fight.”