Pacquiao-Vargas Post-Mortem – Manny Pacquiao added another championship belt to his extensive collection on Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, outpointing defending WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas.
The conventional wisdom heading into the bout was that Pacquiao needed a spectacular showing to foment a groundswell of interest for a do-over with Floyd Mayweather. The PacMan, who won 10 of the 12 rounds on two of the scorecards, showed flashes of his former self, but in truth this wasn’t the performance that his camp was hoping for. Jessie Vargas finished on his feet and was never in serious danger.
An overhand left by Pacquiao had Vargas on the canvas in round two, but Vargas was up in a jiff, a sheepish grin on his face. There would be two other instances during the fight when Vargas was seemingly on the wrong end of a flash knockdown, but referee Kenny Bayless ruled that both were slips.
As a prizefighter ages, his speed tends to wane but not whatever dynamite he carries in his fists. Pacquiao, who turns 38 next month, is an exception to the rule. His hands are still extremely fast — he routinely beat Vargas to the punch – and he moves around the ring with great alacrity, but his punches don’t carry the same authority as they once did. The PacMan hasn’t won inside the distance since he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in November of 2009. He has fought 12 fights in the interim.
It was nice of Bob Arum to stage the event on a night when the clocks in the U.S. would roll back to mark the end of Daylight Savings time, affording us an extra hour’s sleep. For those living in the Eastern Time Zone, the main event did not commence until 16 minutes after midnight.
Typical of Las Vegas, most of those attending the event arrived fashionably late. At the onset of the third preliminary, there could not have been more than a few hundred in the arena, not counting reporters. When the first of the four PPV bouts kicked off, the arena was perhaps 40 percent full. But when Pacquiao and Vargas took center stage, it looked like a full house. The announced attendance was 16,132. Both fighters had loud rooting contingents, but although Vargas was fighting in his hometown, PacMan’s delegation was larger and louder.
In the post-fight press conference, Bob Arum lambasted two of the judges without specifically naming them. His ire was directed at Adalaide Byrd, who worked the Donaire-Magdaleno fight, and at Dave Moretti, who was assigned to the main event.
Byrd rendered her best C.J. Ross impression, giving the victorious Magdaleno 10 of the 12 rounds. Many ringsiders, noted ESPN’s Dan Rafael, scored the fight a draw (as did this reporter). “(She) should never be allowed to judge again,” said Arum.
Moretti scored the Pacquiao-Vargas fight 114-113. That means that he scored the fight a 6-6 draw, the margin of victory in favor of Pacquiao accruing from the knockdown.
The 72-year-old Moretti is one of the most experienced and most well-respected judges in the world. There is a campaign under way to put him on the ballot for the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time that Arum publicly questioned his competence. Arum was upset with him for scoring the Hagler-Leonard fight 115-113 in favor Sugar Ray Leonard. His 115-113 tally, although controversial (albeit not nearly as controversial as the myopic Mexican judge who had Leonard winning by 8 points), was concordant with the tally of many ringsiders. But Moretti’s Pacquiao-Vargas scorecard was a head-scratcher that, said Arum, hurt the credibility of the sport.
Speaking of scoring, Zou Shiming outpointed Manny Pacquiao look-alike Prasitak Phaprom by scores of 120-107, 120-107, and 119-108. These tallies suggest that the fight was something of a snoozer, a carbon of their first meeting in 2014. To the contrary, this was a good fight in which one man was simply a shade better in virtually every round. Unfortunately for Phaprom, condensed histories of boxing won’t give him credit for his game effort.
Top Rank will be back in action in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend with a card at The Cosmopolitan. The main event between WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko and challenger Nicholas Walters shapes up as a humdinger. This show occurs one week after the showdown between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward at the nearby T-Mobile Arena.
Pacquiao-Vargas Post-Mortem / Check out The Boxing Channel for more boxing news on video.