Friday, November 11, 2016

Belated Brief Thoughts On Vargas-Pacquiao

The recent battle between WBO Welterweight world champion Jessie Vargas and future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao was in some ways treated as an afterthought by some Boxing fans. This was partly due to some feeling that the champion Vargas was a significant underdog, despite winning his world championship in his last fight prior to the encounter with Pacquiao in scoring a ninth round stoppage over previously undefeated contender Sadam Ali in March of this year.

Pacquiao meanwhile came into the fight off of a recent retirement following his second victory in his trilogy with two-division world champion Timothy Bradley this past April. Following that fight, Pacquiao was elected as a senator in his native Philippines. Although Pacquiao, a former eight- division world champion has more than secured his place in any Hall of Fame associated with the sport of Boxing, his decision to return to the ring following his retirement was not surprising.

After all, when the name Manny Pacquiao is mentioned it is hard not to associate him with some of the biggest events in the sport over the last decade. Even though Pacquiao has been through his share of wars throughout his career, it was understandable that he wanted to continue his career as a fighter perhaps feeling that he had more to accomplish.

The question that this observer had in mind when the two fighters squared off on November 5th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV was whether the champion Vargas would be able to turn this encounter into a fight and surprise skeptics who treated the encounter between the two as an afterthought or a would be “Tune Up” for Pacquiao. It was also understandable how one might wonder whether Pacquiao’s political commitments outside the ring would impact his performance against a champion, who was hungry for respect.

As has been the case in some of Pacquiao’s recent fights, the bout with Vargas was a very tactical battle where both fighters were able to have their moments. One of Pacquiao’s moments of the fight came in the second round when he was able to score a knockdown of the champion with a left hand. Although the knockdown of Vargas was in reality a flash knockdown, the speed difference between the two was apparent as Pacquiao consistently found ways to get his punches off first and dictating how the fight was fought for much of the bout. Even though Vargas did manage to have a couple of good rounds throughout the fight and was very “Game”, he was unable to land anything to turn the fight in his favor as Pacquiao would ultimately earn a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision to become WBO Welterweight world champion for a third time.

Although Vargas ended up having a bad night against Pacquiao, it is important to remember that Vargas was going up against a great fighter and the loss will probably not negatively impact his career going forward. As for Pacquiao, he was able to regain his standing atop the Welterweight division and looked good coming off of a brief retirement.

Sometimes it is a simple as one fighter besting the other and that was the story of this fight. An interesting story that could be developing however, might be the resumption of discussion among Boxing fans and experts alike of a potential rematch between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. This has also been fueled by Mayweather’s attending Pacquiao’s fight against Vargas.

Although it is indisputable that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have arguably been the two biggest draws in the sport over the last decade, it will be interesting to see how the public will respond to a rematch if it is indeed signed. When the two met in May of last year the pay-per-view event which was priced at $100 broke all existing pay-per-view and live gate attendance records. The actual fight however, failed to live up to the anticipation that preceded what was a legitimate “Super Fight” and left many fans feeling disappointed.  This observer has doubts as to whether or not Boxing fans will be as willing to pay such a high price for the rematch given how the first fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao was fought.

A rematch between the two will definitely draw significant attention if it is indeed signed, but given the general decline of pay-per-view buys for Boxing events in recent years as well as how both Mayweather and Pacquiao drew on pay-per-view in separate fights following their encounter last year, the question of whether Boxing fans would pay as high a price for a rematch between the two is a fair one to ask. Although there is no word as of this writing as to whether or not a rematch between the two will take place or how well Pacquiao’s fight with Jessie Vargas did in terms of pay-per-view buys, this observer believes if it makes sense from a financial standpoint and both fighters want to do it, make the fight.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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