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Pacquiao-Vargas: A Money Grab – Well, it looks as if Top Rank Promotions president Bob Arum isn’t quite ready to cash out on former eight division title holder Manny Pacquiao 58-6-2 (38), at least not yet. Apparently Arum believes Pacquiao can bilk the fans once more and squeeze out another 10-15 million dollar payday before the fans are fed up and won’t buy any more of his fights unless he faces a truly elite guy over whom he holds no distinct advantage. And that’s exactly what his upcoming fight on Nov. 5 versus WBO welterweight title holder Jesse Vargas 27-1 (10) is not….it’s a money grab with perhaps the least risk possible with a title on the line for Pacquiao.

For the 27-year-old Vargas, he’ll be making his first title defense after stopping the then undefeated Sadam Ali for the vacant WBO belt back in March. Vargas is a good guy who shows up to fight and I’m glad he’s getting a nice payday, although most wanted to see Pacquiao take on Terence Crawford next. Count me among them.

However, Crawford would have been a terrible matchup for Pacquiao, especially at this stage of his career. Crawford is an elite boxer who is equally effective fighting inside and outside. In addition to that, Terence punches plenty hard enough to keep Pacquiao from becoming too bold. It’s my belief (and I doubt Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach would dispute it much), that Manny would be profoundly out-boxed by Crawford in a manner similar to the way he was out-boxed by Floyd Mayweather. Crawford has the strength, youth, range, offensive skill and escapability to give Pacquiao an ulcer.

It’s doubtful that Crawford vs. Pacquiao would be exciting and if Manny lost by decision – he and Roach would be crying after the fight that Crawford ran and Pacquiao was the effective aggressor. It’s a tired story but unfortunately it just might have some legs if the bout was moderately close and competitive. But if Pacquiao looks good against Vargas, a fight with Crawford would be even bigger next year. And if Manny should win, he’d continue fighting but if he were defeated by Crawford, not only would there be no shame in that but it would be for a ton of money in what would be his career finale.

Pacquiao-Vargas: A Money Grab

Manny Pacquiao became a household name and PPV fighter the night he stopped Ricky Hatton in the second round back in May of 2009. Manny looked sensational against Hatton; he hasn’t really looked anywhere near that destructive since that night. After knocking out Hatton, every subsequent Pacquiao fight was a PPV event. His opponents in these PPV fights were Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez twice, Timothy Bradley three times, Brandon Rios, Chris Aligieri and Floyd Mayweather.

Now think about the styles they brought. Cotto tried to fight but quickly reverted to boxing and fighting on the move – and Manny ate him up. Clottey came forward but refused to engage, thus Manny looked terrific. Margarito came forward and got pummeled. Mosley looked only to counter and the fight was a dud. Marquez boxed and countered aggressively, and should’ve won the decision in their third meeting and then knocked him dead in their fourth fight. Bradley never took it too Pacquiao and other than their last fight, Manny didn’t really put much distance between he and Bradley. Rios brought the action to Pacquiao and got butchered; Algieri moved away and despite a lack of power – went the distance. Mayweather boxed, used angles and movement and Manny was completely nullified.

What’s the takeaway? The way I see it, every time Manny fought a guy who brought the action or attempted to carry it to him, he looked his best. Conversely, whenever he fought a guy who moved or boxed, he either won without looking so good or he lost. Vargas, who is in his prime and looking to make a name for himself, likes to mix it up and engage. Jesse also must know that the odds of winning a close decision over Pacquiao are very slim…therefore he has to really take it to Pacquiao. Yes, that plays into what Pacquiao wants, but it’s Jesse’s only chance.

Vargas also tends to get a little wild and leaves himself open during heated exchanges. He’s not much of a puncher, but if he hits Pacquiao with the right hand that he hurt Bradley with, Manny could be in big trouble. So from an action standpoint, Pacquiao-Vargas could be an exciting bout. Along with that it’ll be very telling because if Manny can’t at least overwhelm Vargas, we’ll know the end is near even if he wins. Supposing he beats Vargas and looks good, he’ll fight Crawford because the money will be too good. And if he loses to Vargas, we will have pretty much seen the last of Manny Pacquiao. Either way it’s likely that Pacquiao is two fights away from retirement. The Vargas bout based on styles should be more drama filled than at least half of his previous 12 bouts.

No doubt Pacquiao-Vargas is a money grab, but it could be a good fight and ultimately lead to Terence Crawford which should for all intents and purposes be Pacquiao’s swansong! Vargas is completely expendable, but he’s got a title, and some goodwill based on the Bradley fight, so he should set the stage for the next big fight for Pacquiao. The only question is whether Manny has diminished to where a charged-up kid in his prime (and a big kid at that) might get lucky and outwork him.  That said, I’ve been unimpressed with Vargas so far.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at

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