The Big Question: Pacquiao vs Vargas
As fistic legend Manny Pacquiao prepares to try and wrest the WBO welterweight title from Jessie Vargas, we canvassed opinion among the Boxing Monthly online team about what will happen on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
I'll go with The Pac Man on points, simply because he hasn't won a fight by stoppage since 2009 (against Cotto). That and his elbow injury will dictate how explosive he'll be. After a 66-fight career though, I'd say he's paid his penance in terms of leaving it all in the ring.
I'm expecting a good performance from Pacquiao, but not a vastly entertaining fight. Vargas is a good fighter who is technically sharp and has a good engine. If he comes with his best performance and Pac is on the slide, he may upset the apple cart. Otherwise, it's Pacquiao all the way for me. - Paul Zanon
I'm actually really looking forward to this card what with the debut of Robson Conceicao, and Zou Shiming most likely becoming a world champion, as well as Valdez vs Osawa and Donaire vs Magdaleno, but the main event does very little for me.
We're definitely at the stage now where we're looking for any decline in Pacquiao and for any hint that he'll become old overnight but I don't think we're there just yet. Vargas' performance against Sadam Ali was impressive but taking on Pacquiao, even at his age, still represents another level altogether. Despite the dramatic ending to the Bradley fight we shouldn't forget that Vargas was thoroughly out boxed for the rest of the contest and I'm afraid my pick is the routine one of a unanimous points victory for the Filipino. - Marcus Bellinger
Jessie Vargas is full of confidence after giving Timothy Bradley all he could handle last summer and blowing out Sadam Ali in March. Pacquiao is clearly past his best and has been going through the motions for the last five years. Couple that with the ‘tale of the tape’ (Vargas is more than a decade younger, taller and longer) and the recipe for an upset is there. However, even the current faded, uninspired version of the Filipino southpaw has enough left in the tank to score a unanimous decision win on 5 November in Las Vegas.
The real question is: “what’s next?” Don’t be surprised to see both men in rematches next year – Vargas against Bradley and Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather (don’t shoot the messenger!) - Michael Montero
I think 99% of people will say: "Pacquiao, Decision....probably 116-112 or 117-111".
You may get the odd vote for Vargas, but unless Pacman has really slipped, the most logical answer is that he will become a three-time WBO welterweight champion by winning a competitive but clear unanimous decision. I won't be staying up for it! - Colin Harris
I'm one of Col's predictable 99% in plumping for a Pacquiao decision. Usually something of a nerd when it comes to keeping tabs of the various champions, I can't quite recall how what Lennox Lewis once called 'politricks' led to Vargas being declared champ and Pacquiao becoming the challenger here, given that 'Pacman' beat Bradley (who of course bested Vargas) last time out!
With a Garcia vs Thurman unification set for March, the top of the welterweight division is heating up, making this match more interesting than many Top Rank in-house productions of recent years. Let's also remember - unusually for Pacquiao bouts of late - that this is a 'movie' we haven't seen before.
The Filipino hasn't registered a stoppage win since a sensational welterweight debut (technically made at 145 lbs) vs Miguel Cotto in 2009 and, at this stage, as Michael Montero alluded to, it feels somewhat like he's going through the highly paid motions. Vargas proved his mettle in the Bradley bout and showed that he remains dangerous until the final bell during an incredible twelfth round in which he all but KO'd the more experienced man. Still, the smart money is on a 'Pacman' decision. - Chris Williamson
I'll play devil's advocate just for the sake of argument. Pacquiao is a long way from the whirlwind who took out a who's who of the boxing world in the mid/ late 2000s. Vargas, meanwhile, is young, hungry and dangerous and the Sadam Ali victory was an impressive one.
Perhaps the legendary 'Pacman' has grown old and, with the new breed of welterweights finally stepping things up, Vargas can join that clutch of fighters jostling for position at the top of the division.
That being said, if pressed, I'll still plump for Manny by unanimous decision! - James Oddy
Final count: Pacquiao 6 Vargas 0