MANNY Pacquiao did a quick pivot on Wednesday morning, choosing Cuba's Yordenis Ugas as his next opponent in an August 21 card in Las Vegas after Errol Spence Jr. was forced to pull out by an eye injury.
Pacquiao's promoter Premier Boxing Champions hastily announced the Ugas fight at welterweight after the retinal tear was discovered in a mandatory pre-fight medical exam conducted by the Nevada State Athletic Commission a day before.
"I'm very disappointed that I won't be able to fight Manny Pacquiao on Aug. 21," said Spence in a statement.
"I was excited about the fight and the event. Unfortunately, the doctors found a tear in my left eye and said I needed to get surgery on it ASAP and that there was no way I could fight with my eye in that condition."
Spence is set to undergo surgery on Thursday in Dallas. The welterweight champion who came back from a horror car accident in October 2019 and beat Danny Garcia to earn the right to fight Pacquiao vowed to come back.
"I came back from worse," he tweeted.
Ugas, a bronze medalist for Cuba at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was scheduled for a title defense against Fabian Maidana in the same card but became available when the later pulled out, also because of injury.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Pacquiao, but I am coming to win this fight," said the 35-year old Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs), who was elevated by the WBA to champion status at welterweight after Pacquiao was stripped of the title he won over Keith Thurman.
“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."
Minutes after the Spence pullout was formally announced, Pacquiao's first order of business was to wish the latter well in his recovery.
"I pray for a quick and full recovery for Errol Spence," the eight-division world champion said in a tweet.
Spence said: “I was excited about the fight and the event. There was no way I could fight with my eye in that condition. I’d like to apologize to everyone. You know I’ll be back soon. We’ve come back from worse.’’
However, Spence isn't guaranteed a fight against Pacquiao once healthy as the Filipino boxing hero is preparing for a bigger fight in the next Philippine national elections.