Superstar Manny Pacquiao was widely expected to defeat reigning and defending WBO welterweight champ Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas last night, the only real question going in was: would the returning 37 year-old be able to register a KO, his first since way back in 2009? Pac-Man got the win, via 12-round UD (with one judge somehow having it crazily close at 114-113, the other two officials on the ball at 118-109 each) but he failed to get the knockout.
So, as good, as energetic and as fast as Pacquiao still is, is his once withering finishing power gone for good? Pac-Man scored a speedy flash knockdown early but he never looked like stopping the game Vargas. An even bigger question is, who next for the brand new, once again WBO 147-pound champ? With his post-fight revelation that he personally invited Floyd Mayweather Jnr to attend last night’s fight, Pacquiao set off fresh talk that says the two greatest fighters of their generation will fight each other again.
Pac-Man refused to be drawn on the subject of who he will or will not fight next, only saying how he will fight “anyone,” and that he will talk with his promoter Bob Arum on the subject. When asked if he could possibly fight Terence Crawford at 140, Pacquiao said “that’s no problem.” So, who do the fans want to see the fighting politician go to war with next: Mayweather, Crawford, Canelo Alvarez (a match-up Freddie Roach has said he is keen on seeing if it’s at a fair weight), or someone else?
The possible Mayweather fight, in what would be a rematch of “The Fight of The Century” from last May, is getting plenty of ink, but do we really want to see that fight again? As good and as fresh as Manny looked last night, was there really anything on display that convinced you Floyd would have any difficulties in repeating his commanding decision victory of 18 months ago? You’ll probably answer no to such a question, and what we don’t want is a repeat of the agonisingly dull first fight Mayweather and Pacquiao had.
If Pacquaio had looked back to his brutal best in smashing Vargas and then took to the microphone and aggressively called Mayweather out, maybe things would be different. But Pac-Man, though he was impressive against Vargas, will not have done anything to scare Floyd or his fans. And in his post-fight interview, Manny was his usual polite self.
The thinking is, if he and Mayweather do fight again, Pacquaio will appear again as the seemingly compliant figure he was last May. Who needs to see that, and another dull, safety-first Mayweather decision win?