Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring after his brief retirement and looked like the Pacquiao of old, taking the WBO welterweight title from Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision (114-113, 118-109, 118-109) in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
After a slow first round from both fighters, Pacquiao was able to take control with a knockdown of Vargas in the second round and was extremely active in the third round as well, hunting for a finish. Vargas settled in and controlled the action in the middle of the fight, but after the sixth round, it was apparent that Pacquiao's speed and movement were going to be too much for the champion.
Pacquiao's powerful left hand did damage to the right side of Vargas' face throughout the night, but in the later rounds it was a short right hand that he shot over the Vargas left jab that really set the tone for the second half of the fight. Pacquiao created a new rhythm with that right hand and starting to set up combinations rather than hunt for just the big left hand.
Vargas fought admirably and never stopped coming forward against Pacquiao, but by the closing rounds it was clear that he was running out of gas. His right hand was his only real weapon and it did some damage, looping in and catching Pacquiao flush on the chin on a number of occasions. The problem for Vargas was, once that hard right landed, he couldn't -- or wasn't willing to -- follow it up to create a power combination that would really hurt Pacquiao.
In the end, Pacquiao cruised to a victory on two of the judge's cards, while narrowly edging out Vargas on the other thanks to his second-round knockdown to claim the belt. Pacquiao would not say who he wants to fight next when a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather was mentioned or a potential bout at 140 pounds with Terence Crawford.
While his future opponent is an uncertainty, there is no doubt that Pacquiao still has the speed and skills to make him one of the top welterweights in the world.
|Manny Pacquiao||Jessie Vargas||Unanimous decision|
|Oscar Valdez (c)||Hiroshige Osawa||7th round TKO|
|Jessie Magdaleno (c)||Nonito Donaire||Unanimous decision|
|Zou Shiming (c)||Prasitsak Phaprom||Unanimous decision|
Here's a recap of all the action from Las Vegas.