Pacquiao vs. Vargas: Fernandez expects Jessie to be stationary
By Chris Williams: Manny Pacquiao’s helper Buboy Fernandez believes that World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) will be there right in front of Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) when they meet up in less than two months on November 5 in Top Rank’s pay-per-view fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Vargas, 5’10”, will have a four inch height and reach advantage to go along with a 10 year youth advantage over the 37-year-old Pacquiao. Why wouldn’t Vargas stand in front of Pacquiao? With the size and youth that Vargas has, it might not make much sense for him to try and move away from Pacquiao.
Vargas has to know by now that he’s not going to be able to get away from Pacquiao if he tries to run for 12 rounds. The much quicker Tim Bradley attempted to use his feet to escape Pacquiao’s pressure last April, and he failed miserably in losing by a wide 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 116-110, 116-110, and 116-110.
Fernandez this to the Manilla Bulletin to describle how Vargas will be fighting Pacquiao:
“He’s just like this. He is straight as an arrow.”
Vargas is coming off of a rare knockout win over Sadam Ali last March in winning the vacant WBO welterweight title. It was Vargas’ first knockout since stopping Walter Estrada in 2011. Vargas believes that he’s punching with more authority now at the age of 27. He’s worked on his punching power, and he’s sitting down on his shots a lot more than he did in the past.
The way that Vargas was able to hurt Tim Bradley in the 12th round of their fight last June and with the way that he had Sadam Ali hurt on multiple occasions in their fight seems to suggest that Vargas is throwing with more power. That’s bad news for Pacquiao, but it’s a great thing for boxing fans. It means that the Pacquiao-Vargas fight might not wind up being a mismatch like many people thinks it will be.
If Vargas is coming into the Pacquiao fight with a lot of punching power, he could pull off an upset and send the Filipino fighter skittering into retirement for good. There’s certain guys that I think Pacquiao would be fine with losing to, but I don’t see Vargas as one of them.
A loss for Pacquiao in this fight would make it necessary for the Filipino fighter to do some serious soul searching about his career. If Pacquiao doesn’t have enough talent, boxing skills and punching power to defeat a guy like Vargas, then it might be a good idea for him to hang up the gloves and focus on his six-year commitment to being a senator in the Philippines.
I don’t think Vargas intends on being a punching bag for Pacquiao on November 5. I think he’s going to be looking to plant Pacquiao on the canvas in the same way that Juan Manuel Marquez did four years ago in his 6th round knockout win. We don’t know if Pacquiao’s punch resistance has decreased since then, because he’s not been facing any punchers.
Pacquiao’s fights since his knockout loss to Marquez have been against Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri, Tim Bradley [x 2], and Mayweather. Pacquiao has fought five times since that loss. You can argue that Vargas, with his new punching power, will be the hardest puncher that Pacquiao has faced since his loss to Marquez. That’s not good. Pacquiao is older now, and probably more than a little ring rusty since he hasn’t fought since last April.
It was reported today that Top Rank has revealed their announcing team for the Pacquiao-Vargas pay-per-view broadcast. Top Rank will be putting on their own PPV event without HBO this time around, as the cable giant passed on airing the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight, because they only want to go with one PPV fight in November, and that has already been taken by the Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward fight on November 5. Top Rank’s commenting team will be ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Brian Kenny and Charrisa Thompson.
Crystina Poncher will also be working the fight as a reporter. Having that commentating team probably won’t make much difference to the average boxing fans, because they don’t typically purchase fights based on the commentators. Back when Howard Cossell was still around and covering boxing events, he made it interesting to watch for a lot of fans, but that was on free television.
As interesting as guys like Stephen A. Smith and Brian Kenny are to listen to, it’s doubtful that fans are going to want to purchase the Pacquiao-Vargas fight just to get a chance to listen to them. Pacquiao vs. Vargas is NOT a compelling fight in the minds of a lot of fans. Pacquiao’s last PPV match against Bradley reportedly brought in just 400,000 buys. I would expect that Pacquiao-Vargas will bring in fewer buys that than, perhaps a lot fewer. Vargas isn’t a pay-per-view type of fighter, he’s not well-known, and he was recently beaten by Bradley. If that’s not enough to turn off the hardcore boxing fans, then I don’t know what is. The casual fans will likely have never heard of Jessie Vargas, and the lack of excitement about the fight could case those fans to stay away in droves.
Stephen A. Smith said this about being picked by Top Rank to work the Pacquiao-Vargas fight:
“To say I’m incredibly excited would be an understatement. Anyone who knows me knows I feel in love with boxing from the time I was three-years-old, when my dad showed me Muhammad Ali beating Jerry Quarry in October 1970. Ever since that day, boxing has been a passion of mine. But never, ever, in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d ever get a chance to actually call a fight. November 5 can’t get here soon enough.”
This is Smith’s big chance to move into another field if he does well in working the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight. Unfortunately, it’s not likely that many fans will be purchasing the fight, so Smith isn’t going to be heard by too many fans. Additionally, the Pacquiao-Vargas fight isn’t going to be shown a week later on a regular premium channel on cable the way that HBO does this by showing their pay-per-view events a week later on regular HBO. This means that even fewer boxing fans will get a chance to see the Pacquiao-Vargas fight and hear Stephen A. Smith commentate.
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