Manny Pacquiao has likely fought his last fight, and while it wasn’t viewed in this way heading into Saturday in Las Vegas, the bout against Yordenis Ugas may have been the passing-of-the-torch moment the welterweight division has desperately needed. Pacquiao will almost certainly step away from the sport to focus on his political career in the Philippines, but boxing fans will always be focused on the “what if,” especially involving Floyd Mayweather. Did Pacquiao do enough in his career to eclipse Floyd’s legacy? As for Ugas, he’s now set up to be a superstar at welterweight. Is he No. 1 in the division?
After a legitimate fight last weekend, the boxing world now turns to a bout between a social media star and a former UFC champion. Jake Paul hopes to keep his knockout streak alive when he faces Tyron Woodley on Sunday night in Cleveland. Woodley had a dominant reign at welterweight in the UFC, but his struggles of late shut the door on his MMA future. Will he be able to stop Paul’s endeavors in combat sports?
After that bout and the return of Oscar De La Hoya on Sept. 11, fans can once again look forward to another undisputed title fight, this time between Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant. Many are discounting Plant’s viability in this Nov. 6 bout, despite his being a talented super middleweight champion. Will Alvarez really get a quick knockout?
Marc Raimondi, Mike Coppinger, Nick Parkinson and Mike Rothstein separate what’s real and what is not.
Real or Not: Manny Pacquiao’s career was better than Floyd Mayweather’s
Coppinger: Not real. Had Pacquiao fought Spence as planned and come out on top, I probably have vaulted him ahead of Mayweather. That victory would’ve been an incredible achievement at 42, and in this sport, longevity matters. Their career accomplishments are tough to separate — both had long runs at the top of the pound-for-pound list, often switching places after their fights.
So it comes down to their 2015 clash, which shattered revenue records. Mayweather won that fight going away, outboxing Pacquiao for long stretches. The only drama came in Round 4, when Pacquiao appeared to stun Mayweather. And now that Pacquiao is likely to retire after the loss to Ugas, it’s a wrap on the debate: Mayweather had the better career.
These are not just the two greatest fighters of their generation, but two of the top 10 or 15 boxers to ever lace up the gloves. There’s no shame in being second to Mayweather, even if there are many who believe Pacquiao would have come out on top if they had fought five years earlier. We’ll never know.
Real or Not: Yordenis Ugas has a legitimate chance to establish himself as the best welterweight in boxing
Coppinger: Don’t let Ugas’ 27-4 record fool you — he can really fight. There aren’t too many noticeable flaws in Ugas’ game. He’s fundamentally sound, sporting a high guard that picked off Pacquiao’s incoming shots round after round. He’s big for 147 pounds, long and rangy, but also strong on the inside. And his punches are clearly powerful enough, the counter right hand constantly dissuading Pacquiao from fighting recklessly.
Most of all, perhaps, Ugas owns an excellent jab and impeccable composure. He never veered away from his game plan in the biggest fight of his career. The jab was piston-like, and he often doubled up on it to set up the right hand to the body. Ugas was cagey, too, able to fend off Pacquiao’s slower attacks.
I thought Ugas beat Shawn Porter, though he didn’t receive the nod on the judges’ scorecards, and combining that performance with his showing against Pacquiao, it’s clear that Ugas is one of the five best welterweights in the world. He certainly has a real shot to ascend to No. 1.
However, at this juncture, Ugas should be recognized as the third-best 147-pounder in all of boxing behind Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. The Cuban would be installed as an underdog against either man, but not likely a big one after Saturday night. Now Ugas just needs the fights to prove he’s the best.
Real or Not: Tyron Woodley will put an end to Jake Paul’s run in combat sports
Jake Paul is aware that many want to see him fail but still has high confidence that he can beat Tyron Woodley in their upcoming fight.
Raimondi: I’m going to give a resounding “not real” to this statement. And it’s not necessarily because I think Jake Paul will beat Tyron Woodley on Sunday. It’s just that even if Woodley wins — even if it’s in spectacular fashion — there will still be a market for Paul fights. Paul’s popularity, which comes originally from YouTube and his massive fandom on social media, is not necessarily based on wins and losses. Paul and his team are telling a story about his career trajectory, and a loss here would only lead to a big comeback fight in the future.
Look back at that list of potential opponents Paul called out in a social media video. Not all of them were the Canelo Alvarezes and Gervonta Davises of the world. Also on the list was KSI — the fellow YouTuber who beat Paul’s brother Logan in boxing. That’s the kind of fight Paul could do next if he loses to Woodley. Tommy Fury could also be Paul’s next foe, win or lose in Cleveland. Fury, the half-brother of heavyweight great Tyson Fury, is on the undercard for that very reason. He’s the most likely choice to fight Paul next. I think that could make sense whether Paul beats or even loses to Woodley. Of course, we’ll have to see what Fury looks like against MMA fighter and Paul sparring partner Anthony Taylor. And there’s always the possibility of igniting the Dillon Danis rivalry if the other options don’t make sense. Danis is an MMA fighter famously known for being Conor McGregor’s good friend and training partner.
In addition to all of that, sources tell me that Paul has a multifight agreement with Showtime. This is not just a one-off bout against Woodley. He’ll come back and fight again on Showtime in the future. A loss here does not send Paul packing. I’d be inclined to guarantee that. Even if it’s an undercard bout next against someone who represents a step back in competition, Paul is not going anywhere.
Real or Not: Canelo Alvarez will KO Caleb Plant within five rounds
Parkinson: Not real. Alvarez has been increasingly destructive in his reign at super middleweight and has stopped better fighters than Plant in the last few years, but he is still likely to be extended into the second half of their fight after meeting some gritty resistance from the Nashville-born fighter and IBF titleholder.
Plant has some good wins on his record — Caleb Truax (2021) and Jose Uzcategui (2019) — but he has not competed at anything like the level that Alvarez has operated at for nearly a decade, and this has perhaps persuaded some to suggest this will be an early win for Alvarez.
Alvarez is in frightening form. If Alvarez can beat a tricky customer and rival world super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in eight rounds (May 2021), Callum Smith by a wide and unanimous decision (December 2020) and fearsome puncher Sergey Kovalev by 11th-round KO (November 2019), then form suggests Plant will be uprooted from the canvas at some point. Canelo also dispatched Avni Yildirim in three rounds in February for the third win inside the distance in his last four outings.
But Plant is better than Yildirim and is going to make Alvarez work for his belt, just as Saunders did before an uppercut forced him to retire after eight rounds with an eye injury.
Plant has decent power (12 KOs in 21 fights) to make Canelo wary in the opening rounds. He throws a good volume as well, which suggests he will stick around beyond five rounds. In his last fight early this year, Plant landed a total of 179 punches in his dominant, unanimous-decision win over Truax, according to CompuBox stats, including 124 power shots to Truax’s 29. Plant also scored two knockdowns in a clear unanimous decision over Uzcategui to win the IBF belt, landing 217 of 707 (31%) punches in the process (CompuBox) when the Las Vegas-based boxer showed he can sustain a fast pace at elite level.
Plant has good movement, and Truax was able to land just 10 punches in the first three rounds. More importantly, Plant uses his left jab to good effect. He will have to put it to good use again to stay in the fight against Canelo. Plant is more elusive than Saunders, and an elite super middleweight, so an early win for Canelo is not likely.
What is likely is that Canelo will become undisputed champion on Nov. 6, with a late stoppage or decision win seemingly a safer bet.
Real or Not: Amanda Serrano deserves to be pound-for-pound No. 1 female fighter
Rothstein: Not real. Make no mistake, Amanda Serrano is a great fighter and the best knockout-deliverer in women’s boxing. She is one of the best fighters in the world. She fights for titles consistently, and it’s not her fault some of her opponents, while titleholders, aren’t exactly the best competition.
She wins. She has power other fighters don’t have. Serrano can make the case — and already has made the case — that she’s the most exciting woman fighter in the sport. Considering she’s fighting on the undercard of Jake Paul’s pay-per-view, knocking out Yamileth Mercado would put more eyes on her. And it would put her in position to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world if it means an eventual fight against Katie Taylor.
But best pound-for-pound? Taylor and Claressa Shields are still going to be ahead of her, no matter what happens in Cleveland.