Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas: A Bridge Built For Money May

This Saturday night live from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, sure-fire hall of famer Manny Pacquiao will meet WBO champion Jessie Vargas. It’s a once in a lifetime shot for Vargas to become a star in a sport that has very few recognizable names. It’s a means to an end for Manny Pacquiao, who returns from a short-lived retirement. With news surfacing of Floyd Mayweather’s recent sparring session one can’t help but to assume this independent PPV hosted by Top Rank serves as a bridge to a Money Mayweather sequel.

A lot has been made of Manny Pacquiao’s daily schedule as a Congress member. He wakes up early to jog, fulfills his duties as a senator, and ends with boxing training. Theirs two ways of thinking about this topic, either he will be burnt out keeping such a hectic schedule or his focus will be sharpened being able to able separate the two. It’s very difficult to judge what Manny’s trainer Freddie Roach says about the camp and overall performance in sparring. Not many trainer’s will come right out and say that camp was horrible and this is just a money grab.

Jessie Vargas and his new trainer Dewey Cooper seem to be clicking on all cylinders. Vargas has shown clear improvements and his over attitude and game plan, is much more assertive and confident both in and out of the ring. As a prospect Vargas displayed fundamental skills with the jab, straight right hand, and his left hook carried power. Now it seems his right hand is more thudding as was evident against Timothy Bradley & Sadam Ali.

Last April, Manny Pacquiao fought Timothy Bradley for the third time in a PPV not many fans were excited to see. Regardless of that fact Pacquiao shinned some of his vintage speed and explosiveness in a dominate victory. He easily handled a high-level boxer in Bradley and if that same version shows up this Saturday the outcome is all but decided barring a knockout punch by Vargas.

Vargas is a crafty fighter but not known as a counter puncher. That’s not to say he doesn’t set traps and think before he lands. Jessie’s reach and long jab will likely frustrate Manny for at least a few rounds. Obviously, using the left hook off that sturdy jab could be very effective. His improved power with the straight right could pay dividends if delivered with proper timing.
We can never know definitively what would have happen in the last ten seconds of the Bradley fight, when Vargas had him clearly hurt. However, what was clear is that Jessie was a level below ‘The Desert Storm’ for majority of the rounds.

Look for this main event to be a good stylistic matchup as Jessie makes Manny earn the rounds. Vargas should be able to land hard in the first half of the fight. Sooner than later Pacquiao’s speed and power will find a home on Vargas. From then on the action will play out according to how Jessie responds. He may trade punches and get knocked down or be content and slip into survival mode. One thing is for sure, Manny Pacquiao will have to look impressive to build his way back to an inevitable rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
My official prediction is Manny Pacquiao by Unanimous Decision.

Written by Chris Carlson Host of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast at or Subscribe on iTunes. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio