Without a knockout since 2009, the Manny Pacquiao story seems to be winding down. But no one is really taking this as a serious bowing out fight for the future Hall of Famer.
(Check out the betting odds on the fight here).
His Pay-Per-View bout for the WBO Welterweight championship should once again highlight that the young American talent at 147 still have to dethrone the Filipino to be unanimously acclaimed as the top fighter in the division.
Jessie Vargas is the man set to stake his claim atop of the division, and a surprise win in Las Vegas would certainly aid his cause.
Vargas 27-1(10KO’s) is fresh off a career best win, halting the previously unbeaten Sadam Ali (TKO 9) to claim his second world championship in two weight classes.
The contest was easy to make, with Bob Arum promoting both the young Vargas and the icon Pacquiao 58-6-2(38KO’s).
Pacquiao’s rise to dominance as the pound-for-pound best fighter – the mythical title some believe he still holds following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr – is one for the history books.
But the here and now for Pacquiao is still leaving plenty to be added to a sublime resume.
Last time out, Pacquiao ended all dispute in his rubber match with Timothy Bradley.
Two years ago, Pacquiao avenged a controversial split decision defeat – a loss that ended a 7-year unbeaten run – before taking the series 2-1 with another dominant win in April, halting a short-term retirement to focus on politics in his home country.
Vargas’ own undefeated spell came to an end at the hands of Bradley. Last June Bradley dominated Vargas over 12 rounds in one of his career best performances.
But the ending brought unnecessary controversy after Bradley was wobbled and referee Pat Russell stepped in to signal the end of the fight prior to the final bell – just a few seconds – but enough for Vargas to call for a rematch.
But Bradley’s interest in a rematch will not perk up if Vargas loses his WBO title. But it does remain a possibility for the future, non-dependant on the result.
Talk of Manny ageing overnight has become tiresome.
The thought of Pacquiao’s long career – started in 1995 – catching up with him has been muttered for years, and in spite of his power lacking in recent fights, he has yet to show any signs that his skills and speed have dropped off any.
But for Vargas, it is fair to say that we have not seen the best that he can produce just yet. Maybe his 9th round stoppage of Ali was an indication that Vargas is hitting his prime.
His loss at the hands of Bradley may also have been the perfect learning experience.
Seeing first-hand the difference between fighting the likes of Antonio DeMarco to squaring up with the elite, could have been the wake-up call that will prepare him to produce his best in his second outing with an elite fighter.
Vargas is fast of both hand and foot, and carries a snap in his punches that garners respect. As highlighted in his shaking of Bradley and stopping of Ali, Vargas may have found his power in the higher weight class.
If Vargas shows a lack of respect for Pacquiao’s power, then he could find greater success than many of Pacquiao’s former foes have.
But Vargas may be a little too predictable for Manny, and Pacquiao is another level up from the Tim Bradley that schooled Vargas for much of their 12 rounder.
Pacquiao is still elite, and his punches still carry more snap than his recent points victories would suggest.
Vargas is resilient however, and will withstand all onslaughts that come his way. But after 12 fast paced rounds, Pacquiao will once again wow viewers with his ability to dominate other world class fighters.
Fight Time, TV Channel and Live Stream Info
TV channels: For viewers in the UK and Ireland the fight will be shown live on BoxNation TV
Live Stream Info: For viewers in the US the fight will be live on pay per view online through the website TopRank.tv
Fight time: It is expected that the main event could be anywhere between 7pm-9pm local time in Las Vegas which for translates to between 3am-5am on Sunday morning for fight fans in the UK and Ireland.