While the announcement of a Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas fight didnâ€™t immediately grab most boxing fansâ€™ attention and while the online excitement for Saturdayâ€™s fight seems to be a little lackluster, the fight is a potentially interesting one.
Yes, weâ€™d rather have seen Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) end his short-term retirement by taking on, say, Terence Crawford. But Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) presents a modicum of danger for the 37-year-old Pacquiao. After all, Vargas nearly knocked out Timothy Bradley in June 2015 and then did stop Sadam Ali to win a welterweight belt last March.
A few days away from the biggest fight of his career, Jessie Vargas is supremely confident he will pull off an upset against former eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao and become boxingâ€™s next big star.
â€œIâ€™ve prepared for this moment for so long. Itâ€™s the only thing on my mind, every day when I wake up and when I go to sleep,â€� Vargas, 27, said by phone. â€œI have a great team behind me, and things could not be any better.â€�
Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs), the WBO welterweight champion, and Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), the first-term Filipino senator who is coming out of a short retirement, are promoted by Top Rank, which, in addition to marketing the fight, is handling its own pay-per-view telecast (Saturday, 9p.m. ET) from Thomas & Mack Center in Vargasâ€™ hometown of Las Vegas.
Despite the fact that Pacquiao, 37, is a 7-1 favorite, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum thinks Vargas, a decade younger than his opponent and several inches taller, has a great chance to defeat Pacquiao, who has not won by a knockout in seven years.
â€œThe reason is that Manny has been consumed by all of this talk that he has to become a knockout guy again, he has to go all out to sustain his popularity,â€� Arum said, â€œso Manny will go after Jessie and be very, very careless. â€¦ If Manny is going to go in there with the intention of knocking out Jessie and being very aggressive, that gives Jessie the best opportunity to win the fight.
â€œHe becomes not just a champion but a superstar. I will deny to him that I said that because I will have to negotiate his next fight,â€� Arum said, laughing. â€œHe would be a superstar, there is no question about that, if he were to beat Manny Pacquiao.
â€œI donâ€™t know who is going to win, but Iâ€™m confident itâ€™ll be by knockout. Jessie has a hell of a shot to win.â€�