Showing glimpses of his past form, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) fought like a fighter half his age in handing WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 Kos) a 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night in their Top Rank pay-per-view fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Using powerful jabs and left hands, Pacquiao was able to control the fight down the stretch to win the fight by the scores 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109. Pacquiao flattened the 27-year-old Vargas with a left hand in the 2nd round. Vargas was unhurt, but embarrassed from the knockdown.
Vargas had his moments in every round of the fight with his powerful right hand catching Pacquiao again and again during the 12 round fight. However, Pacquiao seemed to figure out Vargas’ fighting style after the 6th round, and this led to him dominating rounds 7 through 12.
The fight appeared to be a winnable one for Vargas through the first six rounds. Things spun out of control after the sixth round for Vargas, as he failed to attack Pacquiao the way he needed to for him to stay in the fight.
There were a couple of knockdowns of Vargas that were ruled slips. You can argue that both of them should have counted. Thankfully, Pacquiao won the fight and didn’t need the two additional knockdowns.
In round eight, Vargas was cut after getting hit by a left hand from Pacquiao. Vargas backed up against the ropes in that sequence, and he took some hard shots.
With the win, there’s a big question of where Pacquiao goes from here. His 84-year-old promoter Bob Arum wants him to fight WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who he also promotes. However, there’s no money in a fight between Pacquiao and Crawford. It might help Arum if Pacquiao fights Crawford, because it could increase the popularity of Crawford if he beats Pacquiao, and thus it would make him more valuable potentially to Top Rank as a potential PPV attraction. But that fight wouldn’t help Pacquiao, because the fight wouldn’t bring in a lot of PPV buys.
For Pacquiao to get a lot of PPV buys, and to make a lot of money, he needs popular fighters, not fighters that need him to become a star like Crawford. Pacquiao would be crazy to throw money down the drain by fighting Crawford rather than someone who can bring in the PPV buy like Saul Canelo Alvarez, Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman.
WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) beat his #1 challenger Hiroshige Osawa (30-4-4, 19 KOs) by a 7th round knockout. Valdez, 25, caught Osawa against the ropes and unloaded on him with a storm of punches until the referee halted the fight. Valdez knocked Osawa down in the 4th round from a left hook.
WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24 KOs) defeated mandatory challenger Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. Donaire was hurt in the 9th round from a left to the head. Magdaleno punished Donaire with power shots while he was against the ropes. The judges scored the fight 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110. Donaire lost his chance of winning the fight by failing to fight aggressively during the first half of the fight.
To Donaire’s credit, he railed and fought well in the last four rounds, but he was too far behind in the fight to win.
Two time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming (9-1, 2 Kos) beat Prasitak Phaprom (39-2-2, 24 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO flyweight title. The judges scored the fight 120-107, 120-107, 119-108. Zhiming took some hard blows earlier in the fight, but he dominated in the last eight rounds by using his boxing skills. This was the second time that Shiming has beaten Phaprom.