By CARLO ANOLIN
Ismael Salas, the trainer of Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugas, has nothing but respect for Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
In fact, Salas was all praises for the fighting senator during the final press conference at the MGM Grand Garden ahead of their super WBA title bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, Aug. 21. there.
“Ugas is a very competitive guy. He’s always eager to fight and to fight Manny Pacquiao is an honor. He’s a legend. To me he’s a guy who is an inspiration for the new generation of fighters,” said Salas.
But the Cuban tactician was quick to put the “buts” in between his kind words for Pacquiao, the only eight-division world boxing champion, as far as his explosiveness is concerned.
“So much respect but for sure, look back and talking about KO (knockout), he long time no give KO to anyone. Yes, he has been dropping people but never KO for a long time.”
Record-wise, Pacquiao indeed last scored a technical knockout win against Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse in July 2018 to capture the regular WBA welterweight title and bounce back from his controversial loss against Australian boxer Jeff Horn in July 2017.
Pacquiao, then 39 at that time, scored his first knockout win in eight years as he floored Matthysse in the seventh round. The fighting senator dropped the Argentine three times, in rounds three, five, and seven, before the bout was halted by referee Kenny Bayless.
Looking back further on his heydays, at 29, Pacquiao’s last knockout win was against Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto in November 2009.
Since then until the win against Matthysse, Pacquiao’s victories were led to the judges’ scorecards with multiple knockdown performances.
And this is something that Salas has been very keen.
“Either way, if you look back, Pacquiao, yes, he’s coming from different angles. Very nice. But Ugas as well,” said the Cuban master. “I saw Ugas has mastered to fight southpaws. So let’s see who can see who. The worst punch in boxing is the one you can’t see. Let’s see.”