Manny Pacquiao’s short-lived “retirement” is over. The legendary boxer will fight on Saturday, November 5th against Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs), who is the WBO welterweight (147 lbs) champion. Nothing’s been made official yet, and Top Rank’s Bob Arum said that it’s possible this fight may air on another outlet besides HBO PPV.
Vargas last fought in March against undefeated prospect Sadam Ali, whom he defeated via 9th round TKO in an HBO co-feature in Washington DC. The bout was for the vacant WBO welterweight title which Timothy Bradley vacated, after he chose to fight Pacquiao in a trilogy matchup instead of defending his belt against Ali, who was the mandatory challenger. The 2008 Olympian’s only career loss was to Bradley in an entertaining unanimous decision, which was punctuated by a refereeing controversy which denied Vargas the chance to KO a wobbled Bradley in the closing seconds of the 12th round.
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) dropped Bradley twice in their rubber match back in April, and otherwise won a comfortable unanimous decision. It was billed as his potential swan song appearance, with a career in Filipino politics as a Senator awaiting him in life after boxing. The retirement didn’t last long, and now the eight-division world champion will be fighting for another belt this fall, whether people care or not. And if the last pay-per-view numbers are anything to go by, fans don’t care as much about Pacquiao as they used to.
One of the prominent names on the list of potential opponents for Pacquiao’s return was WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs), who is just two weeks removed from a dominant title unification bout performance against Viktor Postol (28-1, 12 KOs), having scored two knockdowns in the 5th round. According to Pacquiao’s manager, Michael Koncz, the ambiguous description of Crawford’s “style” is the reason they didn’t want to pursue a fight with one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times has more details.
Koncz said Vargas became the choice after he and Pacquiao decided they aren’t comfortable with the style of unbeaten two-belt junior-welterweight world champion Terence Crawford.
“I don’t like Crawford’s style. I don’t believe it’s a style that suits Manny,” Koncz said.
Asked if that meant Crawford was too fast, or too defensive, Koncz said, “His style! Leave it as his boxing style.”
There was also an attempt to set up Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner, but Broner’s apparent lofty purse demands meant that he priced himself out of the fight.
While Thomas and Mack Center is reserved for November 5th, Bob Arum will join Koncz in The Philippines to meet with Pacquiao about determining whether or not to stage the fight in Las Vegas or Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
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