After Manny Pacquiao handily beat Jessie Vargas over the weekend, calls for the Filipino to fight either Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Terence Crawford immediately ensued.
Although I am also one in celebrating Pacquiao’s victory over Vargas, it is obvious the Pacquiao (59-6-2 with 32 knockouts) of years ago is no longer there. I mean, what can you expect from an opponent who only had 10 knockouts from 27 wins, even if he towered above the Filipino?
At 37 years old, asking Pacquiao to fight again while he is serving as Senator may be asking for too much. If the Pacquiao of 2011 or 2012 was the one in the ring against Vargas over the weekend, do you honestly believe the Mexican would finish the fight on his feet?
From the very start, Vargas (27-2 with 10 KOs) was actually a “marketable opponent” for Pacquiao because he was young, never suffered a knockout loss and was really big for a welterweight. But that’s all to it.
Vargas could not even dominate a smaller, light punching welterweight in Timothy Bradley when they squared off in June 2015. Bradley (33-2-1 with 13 KOs) even brawled with Vargas in their fight and was in no danger of going down. Vargas also was in no danger of getting knocked down in fighting Bradley because the American also does not have real knockout power.
Now, what if Vargas had the punching power of a prime Antonio Margarito? Would he be able to keep Pacquiao at bay with his right crosses?
The reality is Pacquiao’s last stoppage win was in November 2009 against Miguel Cotto in the 12th round. That’s a good seven years from Monday next week.
Things really changed for Pacquiao after he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 in the sixth round. Although he has registered knockdowns against Chris Algieri, Timothy Bradley and Vargas, I really have doubts if he still can knock out clean or register a stoppage against a better opponent.
And when I say better opponents, four come into mind: Terence Crawford (29-0 with 20 KOs); Keith Thurman (27-0 with 22 KOs); Danny Garcia (32-0 with 18 KOs); and Errol Spence Jr. (21-0 with 18 KOs).
I hate to say this, but boxing fans should share the blame if a fighter stays too long in the sport and eventually gets clobbered by future super stars.
Boxers need to have big egos to get into the ring to bust each other’s brains and raise their hands in victory. And boxing fans who feed the egos of fighters who stay too long in the ring are not doing their heroes or idols a favor.
If Pacquiao had stopped or knocked out Vargas over the weekend, what I would be writing about in this column is how he can knock the daylights out of Thurman, Garcia, Crawford or Spencer. But that is not the case.
Mayweather is still a viable opponent but this is what I see: the American will make Pacquiao feel he wants a rematch that will likely end up in Mayweather wanting a bigger share of the pay purse. And the rematch can go down the drain for good because of money matters.
I am not saying Pacquiao will get knocked out by any of those four fighters and I am not saying I do not want him to win against them.
But as a boxing fan and writer who saw Pacquiao rise after getting knocked out by Medgoen Singsurat in September 1999 to lose his bid for the world flyweight championship, and witnessing him collar championship after championship over future Hall of Famers, I can clearly see that the Filipino boxing great is no longer the buzzsaw that zapped opponents with his speed and power.
Call me a killjoy if you want, but I do not want to be one of those who will take the blame if Pacquiao stretches himself too much in the ring, just because he listened to the chorus of fight fans who think age is not a factor in the fight game.
Pacquiao is just too much of a good person to become a stepping stone for the sport’s future super stars. He may also be too kindhearted so he listens to fans who want to see him fight again and again.
So who wants to see a kind-hearted boxer and individual like Pacquiao close his ring career with a negative note? Definitely not me.