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Jessie Vargas predicts 8th round KO of Pacquiao


By Chris Williams: WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) says he’s going to be looking to KO challenger Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) in their fight on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vargas believes he’s on his way to becoming a legend in boxing. He says he’s beaten guys in the past that were going to be future superstars and had 80% knockout percentages on their resumes.

Thus far, Vargas’ resume is kind of thin in the talent department. His best wins have come against Josesito Lopez, Anton Novikov, Khabib Allakhverdiev, Vivian Harris, Ray Narh, Wale Omotoso, Aaron Martinez, Lanardo Tyner and Sadam Ali. Those guys aren’t on their way to becoming superstars.

You can argue that Vargas deserved losses to Lopez, Novikov and Allakhverdiev. A lot of boxing fans saw Vargas losing all three of those fights. I had Vargas losing those fights as well. I do think Vargas looked good in his last fight against Sadam Ali last March in stopping him in the 9th round. However, Ali was an unproven fighter who had done nothing in his career other than beating Luis Carlos Abregu and Francisco Santana.

Vargas says he’s punching better with the help of his training team, and he’s going to be looking to take the 37-year-old Pacquiao out at the first opportunity, Vargas, 27, realizes the importance of knockouts in the career of a fighter, and that’s what he wants to do on November 5 against Pacquiao. What Vargas has working against him is the fact that he’s never been a knockout puncher during his eight-year pro career. His KO percentage is just 36%. Vargas says he’s tried to box his opponents in the past. In this case, he wants to slug and get knockouts so that he can become a star.

Pacquiao vs. Vargas will be televised on Top Rank pay-per-view. HBO won’t be involved. It’s unclear how many PPV buys the fight will be getting without HBO and without Pacquiao facing a big name. However, the match-making that has been done for Pacquiao in recent years has been really poor with him being matched against Chris Algieri, Brandon Rios, Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey and three times with Tim Bradley. In the case of the Bradley vs. Pacquiao match-up, it only made sense to be made once.

Instead, the boxing fans saw them matched against each other three times. You could imagine they would continue to be matched against each other in Top Rank in house fights even more if their last fight in April had brought in good pay-per-view numbers. It didn’t, so there’s a chance they won’t face each other again.

Vargas believes that he’s going to be able to outdo Pacquiao in the hand speed department. Vargas doesn’t have great hand speed and never has. However, he thinks he’s going to be able to improve his hand speed in training camp to where he’ll be faster than Pacquiao on November. Normally, hand speed is something a fighter is born with to a large degree.

You either have fast reflexes and fast twitch muscle fibers or you don’t. It’ not something you can change. If that were the case, you’d have every fighter as fast as Floyd Mayweather Jr. was during the prime of his career. Vargas is likely not going to be any faster or stronger than he was in his previous fights. He’ thinks he’s going to match Pacquiao’s hand speed, and that he’s going to be punching with more power. It’s doubtful that he’ll be able to do either of those things.

Vargas said this to the boxing media:

“I see Jessie Vargas winning in super fashion. I will stay on top and become a legend myself. He has a lot left in the tank, but I’m ready. I’m ready for the best Manny Pacquiao that will show up on that night, and it’s my time to shine. I’m used to being the underdog. We’re setting to outdo Manny Pacquiao when it comes to speed. We’re going to be faster than him. We know we can match it. We knew that before. That’s a goal of mine, to be faster than Manny Pacquiao. If he was able to reach a certain amount of speed, then I can increase it and take it to another level. That’s what I’m going to do on November 5th. I beat the guys that are future superstars with KO percentages of 80 percent. They’re animals. When I beat them and they say, ‘Oh well, they weren’t that good anyways.’ I just have to beat who is in front of me whether you like it or not. They want to see knockouts. I’m going to prove everybody wrong once again come November 5th. I’m going to show them I’m the real deal. I’m going for a knockout. The minute that he gives me that opening I’m taking it. The 8th round sounds very, very good to me.”

Vargas might get hurt if he tries too hard to get a knockout against Pacquiao. Vargas might get clipped with something big from Pacquiao if he goes out swinging for the fences on November 5. Vargas would be far better to stick with what got him to this point in his career by focusing on boxing. Vargas usually likes to move around in circles, jab, and hold and throw single shots. He likes to tie up a lot. He’s one of those type of fighters.

It’s going to be tough for Vargas to change his spots and become an offensive type of fighter to get a knockout over Pacquiao. If Vargas can knockout Pacquiao, then it’s clearly the end for Pacquiao. Another KO loss for Pacquiao would be bad news for his boxing career. But as old as Pacquiao is and as many fights as he’s had, I don’t know if you could say for sure that it was a signal that Vargas is a great fighter. It would be more of a case of Pacquiao being over-the-hill.

If Vargas’ promoter Bob Arum would match him against a good fighter outside of his Top Rank stable like Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter, then the fans could see whether Vargas is any good or not. Until then, you have to look at Vargas as the same guy that lost to Tim Bradley in 2015 and got controversial wins over Novikov, Allakhverdiev and Lopez.

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