Recap: Showing that his age is not a factor, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) held off Jessie Vargas (27-2-0, 10 KOs) before a packed house at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The Filipino superstar won on all three judges' scorecards to win the WBO welterweight championship.
Pacquiao, who turns 38 on Dec. 17, displayed no signs of fatigue, as he connected on some impressive power punches against the 27-year-old Vargas. A pivotal point in the fight came late in the second round, when Pacquiao delivered a sharp left that put Vargas on the canvas. Vargas would quickly bounce back on his feet and close the round off with a flurry, but he would face an uphill battle the rest of the way.
While Vargas often looked a bit intimidated in some of the early rounds, he was able to regain his confidence midway through the bout. Many of the rounds were quite competitive, with the Los Angeles native exchanging strong punches with the hard-hitting veteran.
"I think it was a very close fight. It was a chess match. We were on our toes. His speed surprised me at the start," Vargas said.
Vargas may have been bothered by a cut that may or may not have been due to an accidental headbutt. Towards the end of the fight, Pacquiao showed the same quickness that has defined his career and was able to edge Vargas in some close rounds. After the fight, Pacquiao said he was happy with the victory and called Vargas a "great counter-puncher."
It's unclear what's next for Pacquiao, who serves as a senator in the Philippines. He clearly showed that he still deserves to be a top draw in the welterweight division, a weight class with plenty of elite boxers.
"I'll fight whoever the people and my promoter want me to fight. Anybody at 147 pounds," Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao was guaranteed a $4 million purse for the fight, while Vargas took $2.8 million.
Preview: Manny Pacquiao, one of the best boxers of his generation, will look to prove he is still an elite fighter when he takes on WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, 37, enters the 12-round bout as the favorite at -850, while Vargas, 27, is the underdog at +525.
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) last fought in April, when he defeated Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision, while Vargas (27-1-0, 10 KOs) defeated well-regarded Sadam Ali by TKO in May. Vargas' only loss was to Bradley, but he had the former champion on the ropes in the final round before it went to the scorecards. Bradley, who fought Pacquiao three times and Vargas once, weighed in on the fight.
"The pick is Pacquiao," Bradley said. "When Pacquiao hits you, you stand still for awhile. Or you start backpedaling."
Pacquiao weighed in at 144.8 pounds, while Vargas weighed in at 146.5. Vargas stands at 5-foot-10 while Pacquiao is listed at 5-foot-6. Pacquiao, with a reach of 67 inches, uses a southpaw stance, while Vargas, with a 71-inch reach, fights in an orthodox stance.
There are seven fights on the undercard, including Filipino star Nonito Donaire vs Jessie Magdaleno in a WBO super bantamweight title bout. The pay-per-view coverage begin at 9 p.m. ET.
The Pacquiao-Vargas fight should start at about 11:50 p.m. ET.
Here is how International Business Times scores the Vargas-Pacquiao fight:
Before the opening bell, there were chants of "Manny!" Both Pacquiao and Vargas didn't look aggressive to start the bout. Pacquiao would later deliver a decent combo, while Vargas did some decent work with his jab. Pacquiao did some damage with an uppercut to end the opening round.
Vargas goes down after a surprise left from Pacquiao with about 25 seconds left in the round. Vargas got up quickly and finished the round with a bit of flurry. Overall, Pacquiao was a bit more active.
Showing a lot of speed, Pacquiao lands a solid right hand in the early portion of the round. This is a more aggressive Pacquiao than we're used to seeing. Vargas, who slipped in the round, was able to land a heavy right hand of his own.
Vargas able to land a hard right that may have hurt Pacquiao. Pacquiao was still effective with his left. Close round and good fight thus far.
Vargas swelling a bit, but he is gaining some confidence after looking hesitant in the earlier rounds. The L.A.-native was able to land a decent right in this tight round. Pacquiao seemed to be going for knockout, and was able to land a solid left hand.
Good round for Vargas. He was able to land a good right hand and is giving Pacquiao trouble. Pacquiao was able to land some decent body punches. This is a closer fight than it looked 10 minutes ago.
A more patient Pacquiao was able to land some decent left hands. Vargas showed a bit less energy. The Pacquiao jabs may be taking their toll.
Vargas bleeding heavily from an accidental headbutt. Pacquiao was able to land a flurry in the middle of the round. This was a strong round for Pacquiao. He was able to do some damage with some power punches, but Vargas remains competitive.
Solid round for both fighters. Pacquiao was able to connect with a series of hard lefts and looked more disciplined. Vargas is a warrior for taking these punches, and he's delivered plenty of his own hard punches.
Lots of good combos from an active Pacquiao. He was able to land a strong right hook. Vargas looks a bit fatigued at this point. While Pacquiao has won most rounds, this has been a rather close fight.
No signs of fading by Pacquiao, who looks in full control of this fight. He was able to connect on a lead left hook. Vargas remains in the fight because he's been able to land some decent shots. But he probably needs a knockout to pull off a win, though.
Pacquiao was able to land a very good left hook, despite some decent body shots by Vargas. Pacquiao had a pair of solid rights, as well. Vargas failed to land a punch of consequence, and he looked drained in the final rounds. He slipped to end the round.
IBT Final Scorecard
Pacquiao wins, 118-109
Pacquiao wins on all three judges scorecards: 114-113, 118-109, 118-109