Editorials

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas | Preview & Prediction

Manny “Pac ManPacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) will return from his short-lived retirement to fight the newly crowned WBO Welterweight champion, Jessie “Ruthless” Vargas (27-1, 18 KOs) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on November 5.

Despite his age, Pacquiao will return to the ring looking to prove he still has it. In his last fight in April, Pacquiao looked sharp against Timothy Bradley Jr., showing off his quickness and ability to control the ring.

Yet, many boxing fans argue he isn’t as dominant as he’s been in the past.

Vargas, the younger and less experienced fighter, has won five of his last six fights and is coming off a March victory over Sadam Ali. Vargas has done a great job of bouncing back from his loss to Bradley by knocking out Ali, giving him his first loss.

This fight will pose a big test for both fighters–Pacquiao is looking to prove he’s still got it, while Vargas, stepping up in competition is looking to upset the veteran. They will be fighting for Vargas’ WBO Welterweight title.

Read on for a complete preview and prediction for Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas.

Tale of the Tape

pac-vargas

 Manny PacquiaoJessie Vargas
Record58-6-2, 38 KOs27-1, 10 KOs
Age3727
Height5'5½"5'10"
Reach67"71"
Weight147147
StanceSouthpawOrthodox
HometownGeneral Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, PhilippinesLas Vegas, Nevada
Rounds Boxed431189

From looking at the Tale of the Tape, one thing is certain, Manny Pacquiao has much more ring experience and if you’ve followed his career at all, you know he’s fought the best of the best.

Jessie Vargas is the much younger fighter, with less ring experience, but he has stepped up his level of competition in recent years.

Pacquiao also has a substantially higher KO percentage than Vargas; Pac Man has more KOs than Vargas has fights. But Pacquiao hasn’t had a knockout since 2009, while Vargas is coming off a TKO victory over Sadam Ali who was previously unbeaten.

Looking at the Tale of the Tape, Vargas is clearly the bigger fighter. He is four inches taller than Pacquiao, with a four inch reach advantage.

On November 5, it will be interesting to see how big of role size will play into who comes out victorious.

Main Storylines

manny-pacquiao-vs-jessie-vargas-top-rank9
Photo by Top Rank

After dominating in his third encounter against Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao was recognized by most as retired. He took a short break after his April victory over Bradley, returning to the Philippines and gaining yet another victory in his senatorial campaign.

Pacquiao is a legend in the sport of boxing and Jessie Vargas recognizes that, which is one of the reasons he was thrilled to take this fight. As an amateur, Vargas remembers the Pacquiao of a decade ago. Pacquiao started out as a relatively unknown fighter from the Philippines, who made his name by knocking out two Mexican warriors in Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. Vargas expressed that both Barrera and Morales are fighters who he looks up to as heroes.

“He was able to defeat Morales and Barrera, and now it’s my time to defeat Manny Pacquiao, give him that same taste,” said Vargas.

Vargas has fought on Pacquiao’s undercards twice, and says that fighting Pacquiao has been something he’s wanted to do since he signed with Top Rank in 2012–and even before that.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve been wanting to face a fighter known as the best,” said Vargas. “That way I can prove that I am the best after beating that fighter. In this era it’s Manny Pacquiao, and the way it would change my life is, it would be a dream come true.”

While Vargas is more confident than ever in his training camp leading up to November 5, Pacquiao has been dealing with cramps in sparring and had to take two days off of training due to illness.

Vargas has reportedly taken down several of his sparring partners in camp, focusing on sitting down on his punches–he is excited to show off the definite change in power in his upcoming bout against Pacquiao.

Pacquiao is past his prime, there is no denying that fact, but he is still a very crafty fighter and is one of the best fighters in the game at controlling the pace of the fight.

With both men confident going into the November  5 bout at the Thomas and Mack Center, boxing fans can expect a very interesting clash of styles and a very competitive fight.

Strengths for Each Man

Pacquiao Bradley 3 - Will Hart12
Photo by Will Hart/HBO

Manny Pacquiao

Hand Speed

Manny Pacquiao, even at the age of 37, has some of the quickest hands in the sport of boxing. He looks quick on television, but in person, you can almost hear his hand speed (even if you are in the nose bleeds).

Unlike most boxers, he has the ability to throw six, seven, and even eight punch combinations. It is doubtful that Vargas has faced anyone yet with nearly as quick of hands.

Dynamic Footwork

Pacquiao can work the ring exceptionally well because of his superb footwork. Having the dynamic footwork that he has allows him to launch an impressive offensive attack.

Pac Man is still one of the best in the sport at working the ring and setting the pace of the fight–which makes it difficult for his opponents to find their rhythm.

Freddie Roach

There are few fighter/trainer relationships like the one Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach have, with similarities to Emanuel Steward and Thomas Hearns.

They are a very cohesive duo and they mesh extremely well together.

Roach brings out the best in Pacquiao and Manny is always looking to appease Roach.


Luis Ortiz v Tony Thompson
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Jessie Vargas

Big Right Hand

One of Jessie Vargas’ biggest weapons is his powerful right hand. Though Vargas doesn’t have a very high KO percentage, his straight hand was proven to be damaging against many of his opponents.

In his fight against Timothy Bradley, Bradley was barely able to withstand the wrath of Vargas’ big right hand punches in the late rounds. Vargas also knocked Sadam Ali down twice with a vicious straight rights and the fight was later stopped.

If Vargas recognizes this strength and utilizes it, he could upset the legend Pacquiao.

Smothering Combinations

If you watch Vargas’ highlights, he does a great job at controlling the pace of his fights because he applies great pressure.

While applying pressure, Vargas is constantly throwing combinations to both the head and body of his opponents.

Even when Vargas finds himself with his back against the ropes, he is still throwing flurries of combinations which allows him to regain control of the fight.

Youth

Vargas is the younger and some might argue the hungrier fighter in his upcoming bout against the veteran Pacquiao.

Vargas is a 10 years younger than Pacquiao, and he is in the prime of his career, while Pacquiao’s career is winding down.

Weaknesses for Each Man

013_Floyd_Mayweather_vs_Manny_Pacquiao
Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime

Manny Pacquiao

Aggression

Though aggression could be seen as a strength for Manny Pacquiao–being overly aggressive has led to him becoming sloppy in past fights.

When he gets too aggressive, he leaves himself open for exploitation especially now that he is getting older.

While being aggressive has always been a part of Pacquiao’s game plan, he must avoid jumping in too much against Vargas because of his powerful right hand.

Chin

Like it or not, Manny Pacquiao’s chin is not what it used to be.

Because he is fighting a younger, relatively aggressive fighter, Pacquiao must find a balance between action and reaction while controlling the pace of the fight with his impressive footwork.


Photo by Chris Farina - Top Rank Timothy Bradley Jessie Vargas
Photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank

Jessie Vargas

Lack of Experience

Manny Pacquiao has more than double the amount of professional fights than Jessie Vargas does.

Vargas does not have nearly as much ring experience as Pacquiao, nor has he fought the level of competition that Pacquiao has.

This will be a big test for Jessie Vargas.

Emotions

It’s no secret that Jessie Vargas is not happy about the fact that the media and fans are counting him out of this fight already.

In recent press conferences, Vargas has expressed his frustration and continually tried to defend himself against those who believe he doesn’t have a chance against the veteran Pacquiao.

[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]A lot of you guys, the people that know me, do wish me luck, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking, ‘I don’t think he can do it.’ But I’m here to tell you I can. And just as I’ve always proved you wrong with several other undefeated fighters you thought were either going to beat me or knock me out, now I’m still on top. I’m still world champion.[/otw_shortcode_quote]

Though Vargas seems to be more driven than ever to prove he is the best, he can’t let his emotions get in the way.

Vargas still needs to focus on his game plan and not let his emotions get the best of him.

Winner and Why

Pacquiao Bradley 3 - Will Hart13
Photo by Will Hart/HBO

This is a great stylistic matchup. On paper, this fight looks good for Jessie Vargas–he is younger, he is taller and he has a longer reach, but Manny Pacquiao looked very impressive in his last fight against Timothy Bradley.

I am not counting Vargas out of this fight by any means. He has a lot of heart and he is more motivated than ever to prove he is one of the best fighters in boxing.

To win this fight, Jessie will have to use his height and reach to his advantage and work behind his jab. Vargas should also focus on timing Pacquiao and landing that big right hand.

Even though Pacquiao is getting older, he is still Manny Pacquiao. In his last fight against Bradley, he was able to pick apart Bradley rather easily.

Pacquiao will need to use his speed and agility to frustrate the younger Vargas. Pacquiao will also need to work in and out while throwing combinations, he does not want to get stuck in the middle of the ring brawling with Vargas.

With all of that being said, even though I do not foresee this bout being an easy one for either fighter, I am predicting that Pacquiao will walk away with the WBO Welterweight title. Pacquiao is a very intelligent fighter and has an abundant amount of ring experience, fighting the best of the best.

Though I think Vargas will put up a great fight, I think Pacquiao still has enough left in his tank to come out on top. Pacquiao’s hand speed and footwork will lead him to yet another victory.

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