Coming into last Saturday night’s WBO world welterweight title bout between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO’s) and now former champion Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KO’s), the Filipino fighting senator showed the world despite his quasi-retired state that he still remains perhaps the best welterweight in the world following a vintage performance.
The duo traded punches at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 5th, in front of a crowd of about 15,000 mostly pro-Pacquiao fans. Pacquiao nabbed the go away unanimous decision victory to scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 114-113.
It was much of the same Pacquiao fans have become accustomed to over the past few years. The Filipino picked his spots and decided when he was going on to attack Vargas and when he was going to lay back and take his foot off the gas pedal.
Vargas worked well behind his long 4-inch reach advantage and a stiff left jab. His right hand also was quite effective in deterring Pacquiao who had difficulty closing the gap.
Against Vargas, Pacquiao gives up nearly five 5-inches in height and a sharp difference in overall body mass. There was no doubt Vargas was the bigger man on fight night despite the two weighing in a shade under the welterweight limit the day before.
Regardless, it was the smaller Pacquiao who was quicker to the punch, using his trademark speed to dispel his younger opponent, punctuated by his signature left hand.
Pacquiao’s power also proved unbelievably potent at this stage of his career. Pacquiao dropped Vargas with a sharp left in the 2nd round which shook the youngster, and also stunned him on numerous occasions throughout the fight.
With former pound-for-pound king and now retired fighter Floyd “Money” Mayweather in attendance, Pacquiao also took a brief moment in the middle of the 11th round to look over at Mayweather in the crowd and flash a sheepish grin.
Although he hasn’t stopped anyone since his 2009 TKO of Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao and his team point to opponents’ reluctance to engage as well as their size advantages as the top factors preventing Pacquiao from scoring a knockout.
Head coach Freddie Roach also stated in previous interviews that Pacquiao’s power admittedly has not carried into the 147-pound division.
Regardless, Pacquiao’s power made a huge difference against Vargas, and the Mexican-American now former champion certainly was weary of getting hit by Pacquiao’s power shots all through the bout.
This December, Pacquiao turns 38 and is well past his prime as a prizefighter. Surprisingly however, he remains the top draw and the best fighter at 147 pounds. With the victory over Vargas, Pacquiao joins WBC champion Danny Garcia and WBA champion Keith Thurman at the top of the heap.
Garcia and Thurman are scheduled to go head-to-head in early March next year, and after that bout only one fighter will walk out of the ring as champion. Pacquiao could conceivably challenge the winner of that bout to unify the welterweight titles, however, Top Rank chief Bob Arum could have other plans.
He could instead position Pacquiao for a bout against junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford or middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez whom Pacquiao will have to face at a catchweight. Both fights are compelling for their own reasons.
Although Mayweather may not specifically be on the table from this performance alone, Pacquiao proves to the world that he is still a force to be reckoned with at welterweight.