Celebrated boxing trainer Ismael Salas believes devising a gameplan to defeat eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao this weekend will be one of the toughest tests of his coaching career.
On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Salas will be in the corner of WBA Super welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas, who stepped in at late notice to face the Filipino legend after WBC and IBF title holder Errol Spence withdrew due to a torn retina.
Ugas was scheduled to face several different opponents on Saturday before a dream opportunity against Pacquiao fell in place at the last moment. Now Salas, in his 190th world title fight, must find a way to steer his fellow Cuban to victory.
“Yordenis has had several fights come up at the last minute. It is a great challenge, but without challenges we have no reason to be [in the game] and we accepted it,” Salas told Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald.
”I said, ‘Let’s move forward’. Ugas agreed after the injuries to Spence and [Fabian] Maidana. Sometimes opportunities come like this come along and you have to take advantage of them.
“We started preparing for Spence. Then Pacquiao came in for Spence and then they spoke to us about [facing] Andre Berto and then they made a change for us to face Fabian Maidana. We have made a number of changes. But with the help of Robeisy Ramirez and Claudio Marrero, two lefties, we’ve done work to adjust to what Pacquiao demands.
“This is not magic. It has taken away my sleep a bit because I have had to review Pacquiao’s fights, like those with [Miguel] Cotto and [Keith] Thurman. We are making adjustments. I repeat, the willingness of Marrero and Robeisy has been important. Robeisy is observant, he helps me in the gym. I have respect for his vision. That’s why he has been a two-time Olympic champion. We are a family and we all help each other. Robeisy has said things about Pacquiao that help us.
“It’s one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my hands. This will be my 190th world championship fight. This is a legend about to retire. It is a great opportunity, important for Ugas and the whole team. We’re going to do everything we can to get our hands on the guy.”
Main image: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions.