Unified Welterweight Champion Errol Spence, Jr. was forced to withdraw from his blockbuster FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View showdown with eight-division and former welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, August 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas due to a retinal tear in his left eye.
WBA Welterweight Champion Yordenis Ugas will step up to replace Spence and will defend his title against Pacquiao, who won that title when he defeated Keith Thurman in his last fight July 2019. Ugas was preparing to make his first title defense against Fabian Maidana in the co-feature of the Spence-Pacquiao card. Being elevated to the main event against boxing legend Pacquiao means Ugas will get a career-defining fight sooner rather than later.
Spence discovered that he had a torn retina during a pre-fight medical examination by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in Las Vegas on Monday. He flew back home to Dallas, Texas on Tuesday and will have surgery to repair the tear on Wednesday. Spence is expected to make a full recovery and return to the ring.
“It’s an unfortunate turn of events that Errol has a retinal tear and subsequent surgery has prevented him from participating in this big pay-per-view event. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to his return to the ring,’’ said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “We’re excited that Manny has agreed to move forward and Ugas has stepped up to defend his title against the man who once held the title. Ugas was in the co-feature and had been preparing to fight on this date, so he’s ready. It’s a major challenge, because now he has to make his first title defense against a boxing legend in a career-defining fight.’’
The 35-year-old Ugás (26-4, 12 KOs) has established himself as an elite welterweight since returning from a layoff in 2016 and was elevated to world champion in January after winning a WBA Championship belt by defeating Abel Ramos last September. Ugás, who is from Santiago, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, was on an eight-fight winning streak before losing a narrow split-decision to Shawn Porter in a world title fight in March 2019. The Olympic bronze medalist trains in Las Vegas and owns victories over then undefeated fighters Jamal James, Omar Figueroa Jr. and Bryant Perrella, plus veteran contenders Thomas Dulorme and Ray Robinson.