One of the inviolable truths of the martial arts comes from the great boxing scholar Sylvester Stallone: ”You cannot beat time. Time is unbeaten.” Stallone said these lines in “Rocky Balboa”, the sixth part of the saga, in which the much too old boxer wants to step into the ring again. The 42-year-old, real ex-champion Manny Pacquiao, world champion in seven weight classes, climbed the ropes again on Saturday night in Las Vegas. He fought a good fight, looked fit and fast and strong, the combinations came smoothly, actually like before, but he couldn’t beat the time either. His opponent, the Cuban exile Yordenis Ugás, WBA welterweight champion, had something to do with it.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, announced as the “True Icon of Boxing” in the ring, boxed heavily, but not as aggressively as before. And Ugás counters excellent. In the first two rounds he intercepted Pacquiao, who was marching forward as always, by answering his hits with hits. Time does not take away the boxers’ courage or strength, but rather their speed. Sometimes just that fraction of a second it takes the fist too long to get back under cover. The opponent can counterattack this fraction if he has the eye for it. Ugás has it.
You had to look carefully to see the intricacies because both fighters were very good. Ugás, also already 35, and Pacquiao, have been in the ring for several decades and have so refined their martial arts during this time that it is a pleasure to watch them at work. They boxed in a versatile, focused, precise manner.
Ugás was admonished in the middle of the fight not to hit deeply. In Pacquiao’s corner you probably recognized that this deep right, which occasionally landed on the belt, was suitable to blow the air out of the old champion’s body for the late rounds. Pacquiao now lowered his elbow more often to protect his ribs, but from the sixth lap on, the first traces appeared on his face. Ugás, on the other hand, hid himself in his cover when the attacks came from Pacquiao, the dreaded series, at the end of which his opponents used to see the hall ceiling more often and were counted.
Will he run for president? “I don’t know,” says Pacquiao: “It’s a lot more complicated than boxing.”
In the last third of the fight Ugás met increasingly without a start, so no longer in an action Pacquiao. Pacquiao continued to try to dominate, but Ugás scored more accurately and took the laps. His right hand hit the head of his opponent from time to time, and during the break you saw a cut into the audience as Ms. Pacquiao screwed up her eyes. The last, so-called championship rounds, the two then boxed hard, but a little more calmly to the end. Ugás’ eye area was now also swollen. He showed a few more unnecessary antics, but quickly put his hands up again when a series of Pacman came on. Because Pacquiao was of course dangerous in the last round of his supposedly last fight.
Ugás won clearly on points and Pacquiao is too smart to complain about it. While still in the ring he said his legs were heavy, the commentator asked whether it was “father time” that got in his way, “42 years old and still walked the full distance,” she said. and the audience in the hall gave special applause.
“Are you going to run for President of the Philippines?” Pacquiao was still being asked, like every day, for months. “I don’t know, it’s a much more complicated job than boxing,” he replied. Even if this was his last appearance in the ring, he did not want to answer conclusively – a diplomat keeps all doors open. Pacquiao does not want to announce his candidacy until next month. He may now be too old to be a professional boxer, but at 42 he would be very young for a president.