Surprisingly, Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming fight with Yordenis Ugas will be the Filipino icon’s first coming off a two-year layoff and the first surrounded by unprecedented circumstances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A lot has changed in terms of pre-fight coverage since Pacquiao last saw action against Keith Thurman in 2019. From an extended list of pre-flight requirements in the Philippines, including a negative COVID-19 test result, to the emergence of online pressers and daily coronavirus testing, the pandemic has changed the game in chronicling not just Pacquiao’s preparations, but also other sports events.
In view of this, Pacquiao’s camp has turned to such stringent health measures to avoid joining the list of recent high-profile fights that have been postponed due to COVID-19, particularly the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos lightweight clash and the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder heavyweight showdown.
Before attempting to enter the famed Wild Card Gym here in Los Angeles, a first-time visitor one must undergo an RT-PCR test at a makeshift testing center within the sweatshop’s complex. A private healthcare firm, Grapevine Home Healthcare Services, has been sub-contracted to perform these tests on gym visitors.
Only with a negative result it takes only minutes to yield a result will a visitor be issued a bracelet that will allow him entry to the gym. Returnees will only need to subject themselves to the even quicker antigen test. They must do this before each visit. The great thing though is that these tests are free of charge and conveniently conducted by competent and courteous medical professionals and they had Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson jabs in store.
Meanwhile, it should go without saying that face masks are a must inside Freddie Roach’s famous sweatshop. Once inside, physical distancing is strictly observed.
The other day, instead of meeting in person for the first time, Pacquiao and Ugas held their kick-off press conference via Zoom. They will have to wait a few more days before they can size each other up, and that will be in Las Vegas on fight week.
Morever, boxing fans would prefer to see Pacquiao and Ugas try to knock each other out instead of getting knocked out of the fight by an opponent they cannot see the dreaded COVID-19.