Fortunately for the boxing public and those of us who cover the sport, boxing's only eight-division world champion, Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), will be returning to the sweet science and campaigning to become the only sitting Congressman and Senator to win a world title when he collides with two-division world champion Jessie Vargas (27-1 10 KOs) in a 12-round battle for Vargas' World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown.
The bout will take place on Saturday, November 5, at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Many assumed they had seen the last of Pacquiao after his decisive win over Tim Bradley and his successful election to the Senate in the Philippines.
"Public service is my calling, but boxing is my passion," said Pacquiao. "I realized this summer I was not ready to retire from the ring. I made history when I became the first congressman to win a world title and now that the good people of the Philippines have elected me to the Senate I want to make more history by becoming the first senator to win a world title. I promised the voters I would not miss a Senate session which is why I will be training in Manila until the Senate goes into recess in late October. I dedicate this fight to my fans and to my countrymen throughout the world who have kept me in their prayers. And as always, I fight to bring glory to the Philippines."
The fight already has a bit of controversy to it, as HBO, the network that televised numerous Pacquiao fights, declined to air it. Part of the reason for HBO's decision could be Pacquiao's lackluster choice of opponent, or perhaps his pay-per-view numbers from the Bradley fight.
As a result, Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, will be showing it through his company's broadcasting platform, as the card will be produced and distributed live by Top Rank Pay-Per-View, and will be available on all conventional platforms, including all major cable and satellite systems, as well as Top Rank's digital distribution via www.TopRank.tv and mobile devices.
In his last fight, a healthy Pacquiao (he had suffered a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder during the fourth round of the Floyd Mayweather bout) returned to the winner's circle on April 9, winning the rubber match against five-time world champion Bradley. In a battle of Top-10 pound for pound fighters, Pacquiao sent Bradley to the canvas twice en route to a dominant 12-round unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored the fight 116-110.
Although Vargas might not bring much name recognition to the casual fan, another strong showing by Pacquiao could warrant a matchup in May with Canelo Alvarez, or perhaps a mega-rematch with Mayweather. A win would also make Pacquiao a three-time welterweight WBO champ.
"Last April, Manny proved against Tim Bradley that he still has great fights left in him," said Pacquiao's Hall of Fame trainer World-Famous Freddie Roach. "I'm looking forward to returning to Manila and training Manny for a very big challenge. Jessie Vargas has our respect. We saw what he did to Sadam Ali to win his second world title. Manny will be prepared to shoot the works against him to become world champion again. That's our mandate."
Vargas has his own unusual motivation for the fight, beyond the typical cliches often heard from today's athletes.
"When I was younger I watched what Manny did to my two boxing idols, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera -- two great Mexican warriors," said Vargas. "I told myself, someday I would get into the ring against Manny and avenge what he did to them. Now I will fight for them as well as myself. To me, this fight isn't about a friendly ring rivalry between our countries. This fight is about payback."
Vargas' lone loss occurred when he challenged Tim Bradley for the vacant WBO welterweight world title in 2015, losing a controversial 12-round decision. During the last minute of the final round, Vargas nearly dropped Bradley with a right hand and had the two-division world champion in trouble, but referee Pat Russell mistakenly called the fight over with seven seconds remaining when he mistook the 10-second clapper for the final bell.
Vargas made the most of his next shot at the welterweight title, knocking out undefeated No. 1 contender and 2008 U.S. Olympian Sadam Ali in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO welterweight world title.
"The fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas will be a real shootout," said Arum. "Jessie is not going to play around but will go after Manny in the kind of battle that Manny Pacquaio likes to engage in."
Tickets are priced at $1,000, $700, $500, $300, $100, and the unusually low rate of $50, not including applicable service fees.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services