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Roach says Pacquiao is 100% ready for Vargas


By Chris Williams: If Manny Pacquiao loses to Jessie Vargas on Saturday night, it won’t be due to a lack of preparation on his part. Pacquiao has been though a full training camp with his head trainer Freddie Roach, who feels that he’s 100 percent ready to challenger the 27-year-old Vargas for his WBO welterweight title on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Top Rank is televising the Pacquiao-Vargas fight on pay-per-view without HBO, and promoter Bob Arum believes it’s going to bring in a lot of pay-per-view buys. That would be a surprise if it does, because judging by the lack of buzz on the fight from the boxing fans, my guess is the fight does fewer buys than Pacquiao’s recent third fight against Tim Bradley, which drew only 400,000 buys.

The casual boxing fans don’t care about that stuff. They just want to see Pacquiao fight. However, the media has to care, because low PPV numbers suggest that Pacquiao’s isn’t being matched against the right opposition by his promoter Bob Arum. You can argue that instead of Arum matching Pacquiao against Vargas, he should have put him in with popular fighters like Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Errol Spence Jr., Gennady Golovkin or Shawn Porter. But at least Arum is consistent with his recent match-making for Pacquiao, because we’ve seen him matched against non-popular fighters like Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri, and put in a third fight that no one was asking for against Tim Bradley.

“Done, 100 percent,” Roach said to media via “I’m very happy with where he is (physically) right now. I tried to cancel Monday’s workout, but he said he needed it to keep his sharpness. And that’s it. We’re done. We’re going to be careful about doing too much and probably getting burned out.”

If Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) loses to Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on Saturday, it would dreadful news to the Filipino star’s career. Vargas isn’t considered the best or even if the fourth best welterweight in the division right now. Vargas’ promoter Bob Arum has been busy trying to convince the boxing public that Vargas is a new fighter ever since his win over the unproven former amateur star Sadam Ali, but the fact of the matter is, he’s only knocked out one fighter in his last twelve fights. That’s not a knockout fighter. That’s the type of record that suggests that Vargas is a finesse fighter with marginal/weak punching power.

The only reason Vargas was able to KO Sadam Ali was because he had no stamina. This was a former amateur guy that didn’t appear to have built up his stamina since turning pro. Arum has talked a lot about how Vargas hurt Bradley in the 12th round of their fight last year, but that’s no big deal either. Bradley left himself wide open for the punch that hurt him by him choosing to just stand and trade. Bradley got hit with a shot that he didn’t see coming.

Anyone can get hurt by punches they don’t see. Vargas wasn’t hurting Bradley with his shots in the first 11 rounds, and that means he can’t punch. If you have power, then you can hurt your opponent early in your fights. Vargas couldn’t hurt Bradley until he hit him with a shot he didn’t see coming in the 12th. Vargas hasn’t turned into a big puncher. He’s still the light hitter he’s always been. But if Pacquiao loses to Vargas, then he needs to think seriously about retiring from boxing, because there would be nowhere for him to go.

Yeah, Arum can throw Pacquiao in with Crawford at that point, and maybe a few fans might want to see it at the right price. I don’t think that would be fair to Pacquiao to be fed to Crawford after a loss to Vargas. The soon to be 38-year-old Pacquiao doesn’t have the wheels to chase Crawford all around the ring for 12 ugly rounds. If Arum is going to put Pacquiao into a retirement fight, then at least match him against someone that will stay in the pocket and actually fight rather than run around the ring.

Pacquiao wanted to challenge Vargas for his World Boxing Organization 147lb title. Arum offered Pacquiao a choice of Terence Crawford and Vargas for this fight, and Pacquiao went with Vargas. Lately, Arum is now only talking about wanting to match Pacquiao against Crawford next. You have to wonder if that’s the only choice he’s going to give Pacquiao next time. Pacquiao has passed up a fight against Crawford on his last two occasions when Arum has had his name in the mix of choices for Pacquiao to take.

Some boxing fans feel that Arum wants Pacquiao to fight Crawford badly so that it can increase the popularity of the American, because thus far he’s not showing any signs of being able to take over for Pacquiao as Top Rank’s next pay-per-view attraction. When Pacquiao does eventually retire in the near future, Arum won’t have anyone that can take over for Pacquiao as the next pay-per-view guy for Top Rank.

Matching Pacquiao against Crawford in early 2017 might help increase Crawford’s popularity enough so that boxing fans want to pay to see him fight. But then again, there’s a chance that Crawford will never become a true PPV fighter despite Arum’s efforts. Look at the guys that beat Pacquiao in the past: Juan Manuel Marquez and Bradley. They never became popular enough to headline their own pay-per-view cards where they were the main attraction after they had beaten Pacquiao.

Unfortunately, beating Pacquiao does not equate to fighters becoming pay-per-view attractions, which is why Arum should focus on putting Pacquiao in with the MOST popular fighter he can get OUTSIDE of his Top Rank stable for his next fight if he gets by Vargas on Saturday night. That means instead of Arum matching Pacquiao against one of his own Top Rank stable fighters that doesn’t have a fan base outside of their own hometowns, Arum should do the smart thing and put Pacquiao in with the likes of Adrien Broner, Amir Khan, Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia.

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