Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao will be attempting to regain the WBO Welterweight Championship this Saturday, November 5th 2016 when he takes on Los Angeles’ Jessie Vargas at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is Pacquiao’s first outing since his 12-round unanimous decision win over Timothy Bradley on November 5th in their rubber match. Vargas hasn’t fought since March when he won the vacant WBO crown by knocking out Sadam Ali in the ninth round. Pacquiao originally lost the title to Floyd Mayweather Jr. via a unanimous decision in May of 2015.

Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas – bet365 Betting Line:

  • bet365 currently lists Pacquiao as the favorite to win the bout at 1/10 with Vargas 11/2, the over/under is 9.5 rounds with the over 12/5 and under 3/10

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Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas – Bottom Line:

Pacquiao is now 37 years old and is certainly in the twilight of his career. Any time he enters the ring could very well be his farewell fight, but the southpaw still has enough gas left in the tank to be considered an elite, world-class boxer. Pacquiao enters the bout with a solid 58-6-2 record along with 38 Kos and the 28-year-old Vargas is equally impressive at 27-1 with 10 Kos to his name. Both men possess slick boxing skills, but at this stage of their careers they aren’t considered to be heavy hitters, at least not with one-punch power.

Although, it is true that Vargas appears to be more powerful than earlier in his career and Pacquiao managed to drop Bradley twice in their third meeting in April. Facts are facts though and Pacquiao hasn’t recorded a knockout in over half a dozen years and Vargas has one to his name since 2011, and that was against Ali in March. Pacquiao’s last stoppage was in 2009 when he beat Miguel Cotto in the 12th and final round. That being said, Pacquiao’s punches carry more natural power in them when compared to Vargas.

Vargas enters the contest with a 36 per cent knockout ratio while Pacquiao’s is currently 58 per cent. Still, anybody can cause some serious damage in this fight if they happen to land a shot right on the button and neither boxer can afford to underestimate the other’s power. Pacquiao’s kissed the canvas a few times during his career and has been knocked out three times, including a brutal KO at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth and final meeting in December of 2012. Vargas appears to have a solid chin, but has been dropped before by a body shot.

Vargas and Pacquiao have one common opponent and that’s Bradley. Pacquiao won two of their three bouts by decision and for all intents and purposes won all three since it’s widely considered he was robbed in their first bout. On the other hand, Vargas lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Bradley in June of 2015. Vargas appeared to have Bradley in deep trouble in the final seconds of the fight, but the referee controversially pulled Vargas off of his opponent when he said he heard the bell ring with about 10 seconds remaining in the bout.

While Pacquiao is more talented than Vargas, he’ll still need to work as hard as possible against the champion for all 12 rounds and be wary of walking into anything solid. Vargas is also a former WBA Junior Welterweight Champion and is an underrated boxer/puncher who has some fine skills. He likes to use his effective jab while setting his opponents up for short, fast flurries to the body and head. He’s fought and beat some other notable boxers during his career such as Josesito Lopez, Steve Forbes, Vivian Harris and Walter Estrada. When it comes to size, Vargas has a decided advantage since he’s 5-feet-10-inches tall with a 71-inch reach while Pacquiao is a shade taller than 5-foot-5 and has a wingspan of 67 inches.

Vargas has boxed 189 rounds since turning pro back in 2008 while Pacquiao has 431 rounds under his belt since 1995. Fans always wonder what skills ageing boxers have left in their artillery and Vargas must be thinking the same. He may decide to use his size advantage to try and keep Pacquiao on the outside, but the smaller man will eventually use his speed and movement to get in and out of striking range to land his own shots. This looks like it will be a close fight with the aggressor, whoever that may be, having the decided advantage.

by Ian S Palmer