Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is ending his “retirement” faster than one can spot a Pokémon in the neighborhood.
Pacquiao, 58-6, 2 draws with 38 knockouts, recently confirmed that he is set to return to the squared circle on November 5 to take on reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight (147 lbs.) champion Jessie “Ruthless” Vargas in Las Vegas, Nevada. Truth be told, this writer never bought Paccquiao’s “swan song” after he soundly defeated Tim Bradley Jr. in their third meeting in April. The “retirement” angle was really just a campaign tactic used by Pacquiao to win over voters. It was Pacquiao trying to convey the message that he was ready to give up the punch-for-pay business in exchange for a Senate seat. Now that he has been elected to office, it is business as usual for Pacquiao.
There is really nothing wrong with Pacquiao lacing on the gloves again, after all boxing is really his main source of income. Pro boxing also does not fall in the category of a “forbidden office;” a government agency that an incumbent Senator cannot hold without relinquishing his seat. Still, Pacquiao is being showered with criticisms because he himself created the scenario where he is supposedly finished with the sport and is moving on to a whole new chapter in his life. The way things turned out, the 37-year-old Pacquiao just cannot find a way to close the book on boxing, not after two decades and 66 fights.
Pacquiao’s last fight with Bradley did not really make money and the upcoming scuffle with Vargas is likely to suffer the same fate. Vargas is not the adversary boxing fans covet for Pacquiao; it is junior welterweight king Terence Crawford and the “retired” Floyd Mayweather Jr. But Vargas, with only 10 knockouts in 27 wins, offers a safe passage towards Crawford or Mayweather Jr.
A former member of Mexico’s 2008 national boxing team, the 27-year-old Vargas loves to mix it up on the inside but is the first to step back the moment the exchanges intensify. Vargas is a two-division (junior welterweight, welterweight) champion but has not defeated anyone with a decent pulse. The first time Vargas took on a credible name, he lost by unanimous decision to Bradley in June 2015. Vargas’ only bright moment came in the 12th and final round when he hurt Bradley with a crunching right.
Vargas offers a style that can bring back the slugger in Pacquiao, if that kind of brawler is still lodged somewhere in the Pacman’s system. With Vargas’ anemic knockout percentage of 36 percent, Pacquiao may be more than willing to trade knowing fully well that the counters will not be that damaging. Vargas does own a good right straight that nearly knocked the daylights of Bradley, but overall his skills and power are nowhere near Pacquiao’s.
Pacquiao’s return in November does not figure to be a one-fight cameo. The Vargas fight may just be the first in a handful of matches that will lead to a mega rematch with Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao needs to impress and this is the reason why he picked Vargas over the likes of Crawford and Danny Garcia. The Vargas fight may not make money, but a huge return of investment is in the horizon if Pacquiao wins convincingly and either Crawford or Mayweather Jr. steps up to the plate next.
As aforestated, it’s business as usual for Pacquiao.
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