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Manny Pacquiao opts to return against Jessie Vargas, not Crawford

Fighters Network
Photo by: Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Bob Arum’s Twitter account, which has become his new favorite way of sharing his ideas, has gone dark while he’s been in Manila trying to finalize Manny Pacquiao’s return.

But Pacquiao revealed what most have known for quite some time, even if Arum didn’t want to admit it in previous days: Pacquiao has selected to come back on Nov. 5 against welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas instead of the undefeated 140-pound champion Terence Crawford. “Yes, the fight is on,” Pacquiao said in a statement.

The bout will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, according to Arum. However, he has stopped short of saying for certain if it will appear on HBO PPV, telling last week he may elect to bring it to fans on a different carrier, while declining to go into detail.

Pacquiao publicized his decision in a news release, saying, in so many words, that he needs the money, and that he still has a hunger for the sport. “Boxing is my passion,” he said. “I miss what I’d been doing inside the gym and atop the ring. Boxing is my main source of income. I can’t rely on my salary as a public official. I’m helping the family of my wife and my own family as well. Many people also come to me to ask for help and I just couldn’t ignore them.”

Arum confirmed Pacquiao’s choice to reporters in Manila on Wednesday, while outlining a possible final two fights for Pacquiao in 2017. “Crawford is a possibility, and who knows, Mayweather may be a possibility,” Arum said of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who won a decision against Pacquiao last year. “You know, Mayweather’s making noises about returning and going to a 50th fight.”

Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 knockouts) suggested he would retire following his impressive effort against Timothy Bradley in April, citing his obligations to his country and his family. Pacquiao was elected to the Philippine Senate in May. To make room for his day job, Pacquiao will train mostly at home, “so I can attend to my legislative works,” he said. “This is my campaign promise and I’m determined to keep it.”

Pacquiao elected to avoid Crawford, who would likely have been favored against the 37-year-old, former eight-time champion. Crawford dominated Viktor Postol on July 23 and was viewed by Pacquiao’s camp as having a style that wasn’t conducive to Pacquiao’s current skill-set. Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) isn’t a piece of cake, either.

The 27-year-old resident of Las Vegas showed renewed confidence and power in his title-winning effort on March 5 when he stopped Sadam Ali in nine rounds.  “He (Vargas) is not an opponent who goes into his shell, who’s a defensive fighter,” Arum said. “He’s very very offensive, he is beginning to really punch with authority.”