Jessie Vargas is the WBO welterweight champ holding Manny Pacquiao‘s old title he won from Timothy Bradley Jr back in April before retiring. Now Manny wants to reclaim it come Saturday, November 5th @ the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The collective howls of derision from the antisocial media monkeys who were desperate for Junior Welt champ Terence Crawford to get the call promptly soiled any reasonable public expectations for this fight, but just looking at both the excellent title credentials of Vargas coupled with his natural attributes that include significant height, reach, youth, and presumably strength, this looks like a really good action fight. Manny turns 38 next month with 431 rounds waged professionally and Vargas is in a traditional range of athletic prime at age 27 with 189 professional rounds logged, so this the classic battle of the Old Lion against the Young Lion.
Manny’s PPV numbers for Bradley III were about the same as the Floyd TUE Mayweather PPV against the hapless Andre Berto, in other words the expected blow back of fans against both for their sham “Fight of the Century.” So is the public ready to embrace their former favorite again?
Boxing is in a major rebuild thanks to that pathetic grubbing of greed and corruption, so nobody should ever expect big PPV numbers again until some legit new crossover stars are born. The much ballyhooed Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward PPV that follows this probably won’t clear more than 300-400K if even that because Kovalev is Russian and Ward a P4P STINKER who has made himself irrelevant these past few years. And speaking of pathetic, Vargas should be undefeated after knocking out Bradley only to have the silly putty ref change his mind AFTER he stepped in to save Bradley. How could such blatant idiocy ever be more convenient than that? Amazingly Vargas seems not to have let it get to him, instead turning around disappointment for a very excellent upswing after that robbery, a vicious KO of the undefeated Sadam Ali that earned him this fight. That said, if Manny gets in a half decent camp, he should handle Vargas in a great fight for fans, but it’s hardly the given win his critics complain about. See the Bradley/Ali KOs for proof. Young Vargas has the lean and hungry look of being reborn with cracking power and confidence.
Crawford has a chance to grow a few more fans, humility, and the understanding he won’t dictate the weights and finances like he attempted. Manny’s still the boss and most obviously as a welt if he wins back the WBO title. I didn’t see the alleged Crawford shutout of Postol, but I did see a very crafty Crawford using his speed and power to get the two knockdowns that insured in an otherwise well contested fight he would get the win. That was some smart boxing from the kid instead of trying to match brute strength against a bigger, stronger guy. Now he needs to better calculate his appeal after drawing 60K PPVs for that fight. At any rate, Manny is still the fastest in the division with power enough and more experience at top levels than any fighter going today. He too seems to be reborn after his shoulder surgery, so if the Vargas fight reestablishes his star power, he won’t go away quietly if he can come back once every year like clockwork. His greedy Uncle Bob is already talking about the Crawford fight next April, way too much return action for what is now a full time Senator.
And speaking of politics with this being a particularly low brow, low blow waged American presidential election year, the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte is as harshly hard line conservative and vulgar as they come. He slandered US President Obama as the son of a whore and demanded US troops stationed there exit the Philippines post haste. America is not his friend, instead looking to Asia and especially China for economic and military allegiances. The last time Manny got caught up in presidential politics during an election year was 2012 when he was baited by the press into offering his negative views of gay marriage in the liberal state of Nevada. That faux pas cost him one of boxing’s worst decision losses ever against Tim Bradley that reduced his earnings by multimillions of dollars. So here we go again with Manny perfectly framed for an identical political crunching moment in time, literally a deer in the Vegas headlights against a really rough, tough, game Mexican for boxing promotional purposes, but who is as native born and endemically American as breakfast tacos have become.
It’s an embarrassment to have to broach the historic reach of boxing corruption in the land of the free and home of the brave where all are guaranteed Constitutional rights in theory, but not boxing decisions. A few days later the big Presidential election occurs, and a few days after that comes the “hated” Russian destroyer Sergey Kovalev fighting the last American Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward in another title fight in Las Vegas. We will see with these two boxing events just how fair America is for honorable visiting foreign nationals these days.
An interesting development in this fight is the PPV structure will be in house on Top Rank’s own website where they have broadcast fights in the past. The results of this experiment should be interesting, but one problem I picked up early is that the promotion seemed a little weak, and on their website I saw no place to purchase the PPV stream just 2 weeks away from fight time, but we could purchase tickets to the fight, c’mon now Bob. I had to research to google to a completely different website, http://www.toprank.tv/index.jsp where the fight costs $59.99, and which is backlinked to the main Top Rank website. Why their main site has no forwarding link that I see can only be answered by their website designers, but dumb is still dumb by any other name. When I checked back days before the fight, Hallelujah, the forwarding link is there. Better late than never.
The backdrop of this in house PPV was that HBO had already committed to Kovalev vs Ward the very next week and didn’t have the funds left in their reduced boxing budget to finance this, and also didn’t want to have two PPVs on the same month for business reasons known only to them. Top Rank is desperate to develop alternatives after taking a financial bath on both the Manny/Bradley fight and the Crawford/Postal one as well, but criminy, next time put the freaking livestream link on their main site well in advance with the ticket sales for folks to buy the stream at their convenience…duh!
Of course after doing decuple duty, that’s 10x duty as Senator, husband, father,fighter, movie star, basketball player and coach, singer, lover, and the softest touch for money for the needy, Manny could get proverbially old overnight, but I say let him do it his way. He looked dominant in his last P4P battle against Bradley and has earned his chops at least as hard as any fighter in history and harder than most all. Jessie not only earned his opportunity, but is also the hungriest for it in the welterweight division. That counts for a whole lot more than just picking up a payday like many fighters do in big fights these days.
Here they were out of training 2 months away already looking in shape and fight ready. This is gonna be great, guaranteed.