Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Saturday night’s main event dubbed “The Legend vs. The Champion” brought Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) and Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) head to head inside Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center.
The 12-round clash was the return of Pacquiao since briefly retiring back in April of this year to take on full time senator duties in the Philippines.
Round 1 opened and the Pac Man wasted no time lunging forward towards the champion. Vargas stayed active in the round, but a stiff uppercut at the end of the round seemed to give Pacquiao the advantage.
We saw our first glimpse of drama midway into the second, as a straight left hand put Vargas on the canvas.
Vargas seemed to be stung by the shot, but not hurt and continued on. Closing in on the first half of the fight, Vargas began to find his distance and seemed to be getting into the fight.
“Flash knockdown, he has tremendous speed sometimes you get caught with those quick shots you don’t see and it knocks you down,” said Vargas after the fight.
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Heading into the seventh, the Vargas corner–led by Dewey Cooper–pleaded for their fighter to tighten up his footwear and apply more body shots.
As the rounds progressed, Vargas’ right eye began to show signs of swelling, all while landing his own fair share of straight rights that frustrated Pacquiao.
Headbutt’s plagued and frustrated both fighters throughout the fight, but most noticeably Vargas, who suffered a cut near his right eye.
The cut didn’t seem to bother Vargas much, but the challenger Pacquiao, seemed to smell blood.
As the fighters entered the championship rounds, Pacquiao began building a bigger lead and came out swinging with big shots.
Pacquiao’s intensity never seemed to diminish, even as the final rounds came to a close. The 12th round opened with cheers from the crowd shouting “Manny! Manny!”
Vargas attempted to close the show, looking for a late knockdown but fatigue and an accumulation of punches left the champion overmatched and overwhelmed.
In the end, Pacquiao returned to glory and reclaimed the WBO Welterweight title via unanimous decision with scores of 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109, respectively.
“I tried to knock him down in every round,” said Pacquiao after the fight.
“I stayed aggressive throughout the fight, but not being careless. I was very careful to go inside because I knew he would counter me.”
Vargas’ efforts were admirable, but just as many predicted before the fight; he was no match for the future hall of famer.
“His speed surprised me at the beginning and that woke me up,” said Vargas.
“I think it was a very close fight. It was a chess match in there. We were both thinking a lot, looking to counter each other.”
Vargas won’t be hurting too much as he is still only 27 years of age and is genuinely a solid fighter. Couple that with the fact that he’s in one of the most loaded divisions in boxing, and he should see opportunities to regain a title soon enough.
As for the Pac Man, the name Terrence Crawford has been tossed around for months now, and is a very competitive matchup any boxing fan would enjoy to see.
Of course, names like Floyd Mayweather–who was ringside–could be thrown in the mix, should he decide to come out of retirement.
During the post-fight news conference, Bob Arum also mentioned Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko as potential opponents for Pacquiao.
Of course, many people are still focused on a second clash with Mayweather, but after the fight he claimed to only be at the fight because he was taking his daughter out, not to drum up interest for a rematch with Pacquiao.
Regardless, it seems that Pacquiao is officially back and as of now, could possibly be considered the best Welterweight in the world.
Peter Nieves is a sports journalist who's been writing for Round By Round Boxing for almost two years. When he's not covering the sweet science, he's busy twirling his mustache and writing a comedy series. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pnieves90
Not sure how Steven A Smith got here...? But he needs to work a little bit harder on them interviews.
You cant jump into boxing as an annalyst if you dont have the knowledge. Because then you end up looking like Steven A Smith.....clueless...and he can go back to other sports.