The legend returns
In his first fight since coming out of retirement, Manny Pacquiao defeated Jessie Vargas to become the WBO Welterweight Champion for the third time in his career.
The boxing legend earned a one-sided unanimous decision at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, with scores of 118-109 twice and a questionable 114-113.
Pacquiao was eager to impress on his return and made a fast start by putting the Champion on the canvas in the second round. He slipped a jab and sent a straight left on Vargas’ chin, sending him backwards.
Vargas was not hurt but he seemed slightly overawed by the occasion as Pac Man continued his attack in the following round.
The Champion had height and reach advantage but he actually found success on the inside, landing a clean right hook on his 37-year-old opponent at the end of the sixth.
Mid-way through the eighth the Mexican-American backed his opponent up with a thudding right hand and followed this with a flurry as both men traded blows, leading to a cut above Vargas’ right eye.
Pacquiao stepped it up in the final round, chasing his first knockout win since 2009, but Vargas held on until the final bell as he lost his belt to an all-time great.
With Floyd Mayweather in attendance, Pacquiao knew he had to win well and although he could not earn a stoppage victory, the Filipino was impressive and could secure a big fight in 2017.
Elsewhere on the card, Jessie Magdaleno earned a unanimous points win over Nonito Donaire to become the new WBO Super-Bantamweight ruler, while unbeaten Oscar Valdez stopped Hiroshige Osawa in the seventh round to defend his Featherweight Title.
Boxing’s only eight-weight World Champion Manny Pacquiao challenges Jessie Vargas for the WBO Welterweight Title on Saturday November 5th, exclusively live on BoxNation.
The 37-year-old (58-6-2, 38 KOs) initially retired after May’s unanimous decision win over Tim Bradley, but returns to the sport to take on Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
In his 21-year career, ‘Pac Man’ has lifted World Titles in eight divisions ranging from Flyweight to Super-Welterweight, confirming his status as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in history.
Over the past few years the boxing legend has turned his attention to politics in his home country, and this will be his first fight since becoming Senator of the Philippines.
Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) is 10 years Pacquiao’s junior and won the vacant belt in March in convincing fashion, sending Sadam Ali to the canvas twice before a ninth-round knockout.
At 5ft 10ins, the Champion will have height and reach advantage but has only won 10 his bouts via a knockout or stoppage, so the power lies with the challenger even after 66 fights.
The American’s only career defeat came to Bradley in June 2015, losing on all three scorecards. Bradley then went on claim the WBO crown with a win over Brandon Rios before vacating the belt ahead of his third installment with Pacquiao.
November’s clash will be Vargas’ toughest test to date, but he could become a star with a win over the experienced Filipino southpaw.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, will be keen to show that he can balance his political responsibilities with the sweet science and ultimately prove he is still one of the best at 147 pounds.
Top Rank’s show in Vegas includes a number of tasty undercard contests, featuring three WBO World Title Fights before the main event.
Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) puts his Super-Bantamweight crown on the line against unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KOs) who is the body’s top-ranked contender.
Undefeated Mexican Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18 KOs) defends his Featherweight belt for the first time, facing Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19 KOs). The Japanese challenger has eight consecutive knockouts.