Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement after his decisive win against Timothy Bradley back in April only to reconsider and backtrack.
So it’s appropriate to wonder if he’s really committed and focused on facing Jessie Vargas on Nov. 5 with his added duties as a Senator in the Philippines also requiring his attention. Vargas isn’t a politician, but he spoke like one during a conference call on Thursday to promote their fight on Top Rank PPV at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Does Vargas expect Pacquiao to be a little distracted with all of his added duties outside the ring stretching him like a Gumby toy? Is Vargas, a welterweight titleholder, getting the 37-year-old Pacquaio at exactly the right time? Putting on his political hat, Vargas answered as if he was campaigning in the battleground state of Las Vegas, where he is from.
“Manny Pacquiao’s best performance against Timothy Bradley in his three fights was in his last fight,” Vargas said. “It was only a few months ago and I’m happy he was able to give that performance. That way people can still see when I defeat Manny Pacquiao I will defeat a good Manny Pacquiao that is still performing at the highest level. That’s the Manny Pacquiao I want to beat.”
Is Vargas (27-1, 10 knockouts) the least bit fazed about facing an eight-division champion and sports icon in Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs)? Absolutely not. Are you crazy? The normally confident Vargas dialed it up a notch for that one. “Not at all,” Vargas replied. “This is where I belong. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I was eight years old. This moment is not too big. I’m glad it’s here and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I am so ready. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve never felt this great, this powerful, this strong, fast. I’m going to win this fight.”
Vargas is a tall welterweight at 5-10. Pacquiao is generally listed between 5-5 and 5-6. Does he plan to use his height to gain an edge? Perhaps it was a poorly phrased question because Vargas sidestepped it as if he was driving around a speed cone.
“Well, I’m going to use every advantage in this fight,” he said. “As an experienced fighter, you have to use every advantage that we have and we will. That’s one of them. That’s one of many we have, including the speed, the power, the height, the reach, the ring intelligence. I have to use every advantage. The great footwork.” If the sport had a verbal component, Vargas would be undefeated.
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