By Eric Baldwin: If former eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao can get past WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas in flying colors on November 5 in their fight on pay-per-view, then Pacquiao is expected to be back for two fights in 2017.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum is reportedly saying that the Filipino star will fight two times next year. Arum isn’t saying who the soon to be 38-year-old Pacquiao will be fighting in 2017, but Arum has mentioned that he would like to match him against his fighters Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. Both are with the 84-year-old Arum’s Top Rank stable, so putting the fights together should be a cinch for the aging promoter.
Pacquiao also has the potential option of fighting former WBC middleweight champion Saul “Canelo Alvarez, but it’s unknown if Arum will want to make that fight. Canelo isn’t with Arum’s Top Rank stable.
With Pacquiao only having a limited amount of fights left before he retires from boxing, Arum might choose to only match him against his own fighters from Top Rank so that they benefit by becoming bigger names and bring more value to his company. Pacquiao-Canelo would be a huge money maker, and it would be one way for the former eight division world champion to get a tremendous payday if he could convince Arum to let the fight take place.
Pacquiao’s contract with Top Rank is said to be expiring at the end of 2016. If Pacquiao choose to re-up with Top Rank in 2017 to extend his contract another year, it’s hard to see him winning his next fight in 2017 if Arum sticks him in the ring with Crawford. If Pacquiao loses that fight, then it’s highly possible that he’ll retire rather than continue fighting.
If Arum is going to put Pacquiao in with one of his own Top Rank fighters, then he should match him against the arguably easier option in Lomachenko first before he matches him against Crawford. At least if Pacquiao fights Lomachenko, he’ll have a chance of beating him. Crawford is too much of a mobile and crafty fighter for Pacquiao to beat him at this point in his career. If Arum is wise, he’ll save the Crawford fight until the very end of Pacquiao’s career before he makes that match rather than pushing hard to make it happen in the first half of 2017.
Pacquiao isn’t looking past his next fight against the 27-year-old Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on November 5. He realizes that Vargas will be a tough fight for him despite his recent one-sided loss to Tim Bradley.
“I don’t want to underestimate him. He’s a champion so I always consider my opponent as one of the best,” said Pacquiao about Vargas to ringtv.com. “I missed boxing, I grew up in boxing. I felt lonely when I stopped boxing. Boxing is my passion,” says Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is resuming his pro career in the sport after having recently retired in order to focus on his new job as a senator in the Philippines. Pacquiao missed the sport that he’s competed in for over 20 years. His job as a senator is a six-year stint, and the only way he could continue fighting is for him to take time away from it.
Pacquiao’s fight against Vargas won’t be carried by HBO, as they decided they weren’t going to have two PPV events in the month of November. They would have televised the fight if they were willing to move the fight to late October, but Arum wanted the November 5 date. The options for the Pacquiao-Vargas fight are ESPN and Showtime. If neither of those two networks televises it, then Arum will need to come up with some other idea.
It might have been better off if Arum had found a better opponent for Pacquiao to fight than Vargas. This was kind of a poor choice by Arum. Vargas is a better fighter than Brandon Rios, who Arum matched against Pacquiao in 2013 in a fight that failed to interest boxing fans, but he’s not much better. Vargas is seen as the weak link among the champions at 147. Vargas is one of Arum’s fighters in his Top Rank stable, which is probably the only reason why Pacquiao is fighting him. If Vargas were signed with some other promoter, he might not have been an option.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. said this past week that he has no interest in coming back to boxing to resume his career, so he’s not an option for Pacquiao. The two superstars fought last year in a fight that broke PPV records, but failed to live up to the high expectations. It was an overpriced match between Pacquiao and Mayweather that was six years too late, as both guys appeared to have lost a lot from their games. A rematch between them would obviously make a lot of money, but would likely be just as much a disappointment as their previous match.