Pacquiao: I know what I’m going to do with Vargas
By Chris Williams: Former eight division world champion Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) has studied WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas’ fighting style well, and he knows exactly what he needs to do for him to get the win over the Mexican American fighter on November 5 on Top Rank pay-per-view at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao, 37, likes to fight guys that come forward and try to punch it out the way that Vargas, 27, tends to do nowadays.
Pacquiao says he chose Vargas as his opponent because he wants to capture another world title. You can argue that Vargas is an ideal opponent for Pacquiao in a number of ways. He’s signed to the same promoter at Top Rank, so it wasn’t for the fight to get made. Vargas isn’t a big puncher, even though he seems to fancy himself as one. Vargas likes to slug, so Pacquiao won’t have to go looking for him on November 5.
“Yes he’s good for my style but I won’t [be] overconfident. I won’t take lightly this opponent. I want to make sure that I’m in 100 percent condition. That’s why I train hard,” said Pacquiao to RingTV.com. “I know his style, so we know what we’re going to do. I know what I’m going to do to him. My goal is, I want to get another title. This coming fight, Vargas is the champion so I want to get the belt again.”
Pacquiao is likely to meet fire with fire in this fight by going after Vargas to slug it out. The only thing that might slow Pacquiao up is if Vargas is able to hit him with jabs and clean right hands while he’s coming forward. Vargas isn’t that fast though, and he doesn’t have a great jab like Mayweather.
It’s safe to say that when Pacquiao elects to come forward, he’s going to be able to hit Vargas whenever he pleases. The big question is whether Vargas will be able to handle Pacquiao’s power and answer back with his own shots. We’ve seen Vargas struggle when he’s fighting guys that hit him back in his fights against Bradley, Anton Novikov, Anton DeMarco and Khabib Allakhverdiev. Vargas arguably lost to Novikov and Allakhverdiev, but the judges gave him narrow wins. The fact that Vargas couldn’t conclusively beat those fighters gives you a pretty good idea of his talent limits as a fighter.
Vargas does have good boxing skills. If he finds out that he can’t beat Pacquiao by slugging, then he’ll likely look to out-box him by moving, jabbing and tying him up to keep him from getting his shots off. It would be bad news for Vargas if he stubbornly decided to stand and slug with Pacquiao for the entire fight. If it’s not working out well for Vargas, then he’ll need to change things up if he wants to have a chance at winning.
Vargas recently changed his fighting style after his wide 12 round unanimous decision loss to Tim Bradley in 2015. Perhaps one thing that changed Vargas’ mind in choosing to become a slugger at this point in his career was the fact that he was able to hurt Bradley in the 12th round with a big right hand after he started to slug with him.
Before that, Vargas had been boxing Bradley and getting the worst of it by far. By the 12th round, Vargas was hopelessly behind in the fight and badly in need of a knockout for him to get the win. It didn’t work, although he did stagger Bradley. Vargas was unable to finish him off. In Vargas’ last fight against Sadam Ali, he slugged it out with Ali and got a 9th round stoppage win. Ali isn’t a big puncher, however.
“Jessie Vargas is a good fighter; he’s an A-level fighter. These guys are Triple-As, Marquez, Morales, De La Hoya, Barrera. Jessie’s not there yet,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Justin Fortune to RingTV.com.
Vargas is missing some major ingredients for him to become a top A-level fighter. He’s a champion, but only because he beat a vulnerable fighter in Sadam Ali to win the vacant WBO 147lb title last March. If Vargas had to take on a good fighter like Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, Bradley, Pacquiao, Errol Spence or Tim Bradley, I suspect that he would have lost the fight to all of them.
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