By Chris Williams: WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) thinks ESPN First Take analyst Max Kellerman is ignorant for his recent comments in saying that if Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) loses to Vargas in their fight on November 5, then it suggests that the Filipino fighter is over-the-hill. Kellerman said that it appears that the reason why Pacquiao chose to fight Vargas next instead of unbeaten WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford next is because he’s only fighting for money rather than for the sport.
Kellerman sees Vargas as the easier option for Pacquiao than Crawford, who he feels would be a real test for him if the fight had been made. Pacquiao, 37, had the option to select the Top Rank promoted Crawford for his next fight, but he instead selected Vargas.
It’s easy to understand why Pacquiao selected Vargas to fight, because he’s clearly a more beatable guy. All Kellerman is doing is speaking the plain facts.Vargas is a straight up slugger, the type that Pacquiao has always done well against. Crawford is more of a boxer/puncher, who is like a slower, more limited version of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Crawford has more power than Mayweather, but he has none of his speed, and hasn’t shown the willingness to stand in the pocket against his opponents.
“People can say what they want to say,” said Vargas to Thaboxingvoice.com. “Sometimes there are comments from people that are actually boxing analysts such as Max Kellerman. Sometimes he says things that are very ignorant. It’s just stupidity. It doesn’t make sense that he always wants to take credit away from me as I’m coming into a fight. Yeah, I’m going to beat him. You’re saying if Jessie Vargas beats him, he’s all washed up. But if it were some other guy, ‘Oh, he’s the next superstar. I’m sorry if I’m not white. I’m sorry I’m not light skinned. I’m sorry I’m not black. I’m Mexican. I don’t know if I’m marketable or not. All I know is I can fight. Any fighter that can fight and has the guts to fight anyone should have the proper respect in the boxing game. I’m sorry I’m not Russian. I’m sorry I’m not from Ukraine. I’m sorry I don’t look like you. I will win on November 5, and I will give you an action packed fight,” said Vargas.
Pacquiao doesn’t want the Crawford fight at least right now. I’m sure his promoter Bob Arum will convince him to take one for the Top Rank team by agreeing to fight Crawford in order to help turn him into a PPV attraction.
I think Kellerman brings up a good point about Pacquiao being washed up if he loses to Vargas. After all, Pacquiao just finished beating Tim Bradley, a fighter that easily beat Vargas by a 12 round decision last year by a 12 round decision. Vargas had a good 12th round, but other than that, he lost the first 11 rounds of the fight. The only reason he hurt Bradley in the 12th round is because Bradley got sloppy. Pacquiao would have to be seen as past his prime if he loses to Vargas, because we just saw Vargas lose to Bradley.
“If you’re coming back, and you’d rather fight the guy that’s harder to sell for the money for a pay-per-view fight than a guy that is easier to fight, what does that mean? It means you’re just doing it for money, and you’re avoiding the biggest risk at this point,” said Kellerman on ESPN’s First Take. “Vargas is a good solid fighter. He’s not bad, and not a big puncher, and the kind of guy where if he beats Pacquiao, that means Pacquiao is washed up as a top level fighter. So the fact that Pacquiao chose to fight Vargas instead of Crawford, it can only say one thing at this point, which is he’s just fighting for the money. He’s fighting kind of a money grab while avoiding the bigger money for the more dangerous opponent. It doesn’t say great things about where he is at the moment. Terence Crawford is not only a superior boxer but he can also bang if you come right at him,” said Kellerman.
Crawford is the better fighter than Vargas, and I have no doubts that he would beat both Pacquiao and Vargas when/if those fights ever get made. With their promoter Bob Arum’s habit of mixing and matching his own Top Rank fighters against each other, I think there’s a great chance that Vargas will someday wind up fighting Crawford. When that happens, then the fans will be able to tell which of the two fighters is better.
It’s pretty obvious why Pacquiao chose Vargas rather than Crawford. He’s the easier fight, and he might have a better chance of bringing in more boxing fans than Crawford, who is mainly popular with a segment of the hardcore fans, and with his fans from his home city of Omaha, Nebraska. Pacquiao can probably make more money fighting Vargas due to him having a lot of Mexican boxing fans that might be willing to pay to see him fight. Crawford is a tougher sell, because there aren’t enough hardcore fans in the U.S to make a PPV fight a success. At the same time, Omaha is a small city, so it’s not likely that Crawford can count on enough of those fans to purchase his fight against Paquiao to make it a success on PPV. I don’t see that happening.
I can’t see Vargas beating Pacquiao on November 5. It’s nice that Vargas wants to root for himself in this fight, but I don’t see him having the talent to beat him. Vargas hasn’t shown the ability in his past fights to beat someone like Pacquiao. Vargas lost to Bradley, and struggled to beat Antonio DeMarco, Anton Novikov and Khabib Allakhverdiev. A lot of fans thought Vargas lost both of those fights. I had Vargas losing to them both. Vargas did look better in his last fight against Sadam Ali in stopping him in the 9th round last March, but that fighter wasn’t a proven entity. Beating Ali didn’t prove anything for Vargas, because he still lost badly to Bradley.