By CARLO ANOLIN
The highly anticipated match between Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. suffered a major setback after the American boxer failed an eye test from a routine pre-fight exam, a shock development that forced Yordenis Ugas to step in for the August 21 showpiece in Las Vegas.
A medical exam ordered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission revealed that Spence has a retinal tear in his left eye just less than two weeks before his fight against Pacquiao at the T-Mobile Arena.
Instead, the Filipino boxing legend will face Ugas, the super WBA welterweight champion who was supposed to defend his title against Fabian Maidana, who has also reportedly suffered an injury related to his eye Monday, Aug 9, in the undercard of the pay-per-view event.
Reports came in from renowned international boxing writers and the Premier Boxing Champions early Wednesday morning, Aug. 11, in Manila.
“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to fight Manny Pacquiao on Aug. 21. I was excited about the fight and the event. Unfortunately, the doctors found a tear in my left eye and said I needed a surgery on it ASAP and that there was no way I could fight with my eye condition,” said Spence, the reigning unified WBC and IBF welterweight champion.
Spence, who holds an unblemished record of 27 win built on 21 knockouts, had his last ring appearance last December 2020 against Danny Garcia while the 42-year-old Pacquiao has 62 wins on top of 39 KOs, seven defeats and two draws under his name.
The undefeated American boxer, later on, took to Twitter his sentiments and bared that he had three doctors check his eye and all were positive of him and furthered that he would return soon to face the winner between Pacquiao and Ugas “for sure.”
Spence, 31, added that “I came back from worse,” perhaps citing his survival from the fatal car crash in October 2019.
The 42-year-old Pacquiao, for his part, made it short but sweet on Twitter as well and said, “I pray for a full and complete recovery for @ErrolSpenceJr.”
Pacquiao, as cited by Dan Rafael in his article, added, “Thank God his physical examination discovered his eye condition before he suffered any further damage. I have agreed to fight Yordenis Ugas on Aug. 21 for the WBA welterweight super championship. The proper way and the only way to win a world title is inside the ring.”
The unexpected turn of events changed the boxing storylines as Ugas is set to defend the super WBA title formerly owned by Pacquiao.
The Filipino fighting senator got stripped of his belt last January due to inactivity with the WBA naming him as “champion in recess” first before declining Pacquiao’s appeal for reinstatement in July, which elevated Ugas from being a “regular” to “super’ champion.
Pacquiao, the only eight-division world boxing champion, captured that belt after beating Keith Thurman in July 2019.
Two years later, Pacquiao, unfazed with the hiatus and ring rust, was all set to clash with Spence, picking him over the likes of WBO welterweight king Terence Crawford Jr., Mikey Garcia, and Ryan Garcia, among others, only to be met with the shock development.
Meanwhile, Ugas, who owns a 26-4 record, last saw action in September 2020 with the latest coming from a split decision win over Abel Ramos.
“It’s an honor to fight the great multiple division world champion Manny Pacquiao, as I am more than ready to take on this challenge,” said the 35-year-old Ugas, a former world amateur boxing champion in 2005 and a bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pacquiao, but I am coming to win this fight. I’ve been in camp working hard with my coach Ismael Salas and I know together we will come up with a masterful game plan to combat anything Manny will bring to the ring. I wish Errol Spence Jr. a speedy recovery and I want to ensure the fans that I will be at my best for this fight.
“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. I love my country and I want to dedicate this fight to all the men and women who are fighting for freedom,” added the 5-foot-9 Ugas, who has the height and reach advantage over the 5-foot-6 Pacquiao.