SAN DIEGO, November 5, 2016 – A full house of 16,132 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas saw a refreshed, renewed Manny Pacquiao looking a decade younger than his calendar age thoroughly dominate opponent Jessie Vargas, scoring an early knockdown on the way to a definitive 12-round unanimous decision. Pacquiao wins the WBO welterweight title from Vargas and is once again a world champion.
Judges Glenn Trowbridge and Glenn Feldman scored it 118-109, while judge Dave Moretti saw a different fight with a 114-113 scorecard.
After a cautious opening round, Pacquiao made a bold statement early, blocking a Vargas jab with a right, landing a short left hand to Vargas’ chin which sat him straight down on the canvas in a flash knockdown near the end of the second round. Vargas popped up and shook his head as if to indicate it didn’t hurt him, but no one believed it.
“When he caught me in the beginning of the fight, I didn’t see it coming,” admitted Vargas in the post-fight news conference.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) continued to press the action early. Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) couldn’t find Pacquiao to connect solidly for several rounds, missing with wide hooks. Pacquiao mixed in body work without taking any damage despite giving up a height and reach advantage. His speed allowed him to get in and get out. Manny’s feet and head never stopped moving.
Vargas eventually made adjustments and improved his timing, hitting Pacquiao with several solid right hands, but Pacquiao took them well. His conditioning was impressive, especially considering how he was forced to juggle training with his duties as a Senator in the Philippines prior to the fight.
“He’s quick, he was in and out real quick. It wasn’t that easy to connect,” said Vargas at the post-fight news conference. “He wasn’t coming in comfortably.”
Vargas’ face began to show the accumulated damage as his right eye swelled by the sixth round. Vargas then suffered a cut to the inside of the nose in the eighth round, ruled due to a punch by Pacquiao by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It was a round where Pacquiao landed double the punches of Vargas.
Pacquiao didn’t lose a step in the later rounds, maintaining his energy and punch output while Vargas appeared to be struggling and breathing hard. It was an impressive display and while he didn’t get his knockdown, Pacquiao delivered on an entertaining performance and kept coming right until the final bell.
Pacquiao landed 147 of 409 total punches (36 percent) to 104 of 571 punches (19 percent) for Vargas according to CompuBox.
After the fight, Pacquiao said, “I feel happy because I’m trying every round to knock him down, I’m trying. That’s why I’m always aggressive, but not careless.”
Pacquiao did not attend the post-fight news conference, He had 16 stitches after the fight due to a punch in the final round. He plans to immediately return to the Philippines to resume his duties as a Senator.
The GMA News Network in Manila said the National Capitol Region Police Office (NCRPO) reported no crime incidents in metropolitan Manila. In a statement released after the bout, NCRPO director Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde said the victory of the “Pambansang Kamao” is a “victory for peace” after monitoring zero crime in the metropolis. “The National Capital Region Police Office renders its salute to Sen. Manny Pacquiao for his victory. His victory today is another victory for peace,” Albayalde said.
Jessie Vargas called the fight a chess match. “His speed surprised me in the beginning, it took that shot to wake me up and get the hang of his speed basically, get the timing down … You have to understand, Manny has tremendous speed and tremendous experience. Me and my team did a great job. I’m very happy to has these people behind us.
“It was a good entertaining fight it was a chess match, it really was. I had to stay alive every minute of the fight,” said Vargas. “We were looking for it over and over again, we caught him a few times, but he’s a very experienced fighter, he’s a legend. I tried to give you an entertaining fight, I tried to catch him coming in. It made me a better fighter, without a doubt, just being in there with Manny.”
Vargas’ trainer Dewey Cooper said, “He showed his huge heart, his desire to compete and be a winner. He fought very hard, he never gave up on himself … Jessie fought his ass off tonight. I don’t want him to have his head down to feel bad or sad to be proud of his efforts.”
“He (Pacquiao) did it again, I didn’t think he could but he did it again,” said Cooper.
When asked who he’d like to fight next, Pacquiao wouldn’t name anyone, deferring to promoter Bob Arum. “I’ll talk to Bob. I don’t know, whoever the people wants to fight me, I’m OK with that. Whatever, whoever wants to give me another fight.” Pacquiao said he’d fight anyone at 147 pounds. Including a certain retired, undefeated champion sitting in the audience? When asked about Pacquiao’s performance, Floyd Mayweather said, “Not bad.”
With super lightweight champion Terence Crawford also sitting ringside in the audience, Pacquiao said he’d also be willing to go down in weight to 140 pounds. “That’s not a problem, that’s good for me, that’s better.”
Fans hope now to see Pacquiao fight Crawford next spring, assuming Crawford wins his December fight with John Molina, Jr. Unlike his last fight, there was zero talk about Pacquiao retiring.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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