Jessie Vargas doesn’t want to hear he was the wrong choice as Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent.
Many boxing pundits considered unified junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford as the bigger draw for Pacquiao’s comeback fight. The Filipino senator passed on Crawford and announced in a news release Tuesday that he’ll be fighting Vargas on Nov. 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Las Vegas native said Pacquiao made the right decision.
“Styles make fights, and that’s what you’re going to get when Jessie Vargas and Manny Pacquiao get in the ring,” Vargas said. “If you want something slow, go look for a wrestling match.”
Vargas (27-1, 10 knockouts) has an aggressive approach in the ring, which was evident in his previous fight against Sadam Ali in March. In a bout in which the Las Vegan was a slight underdog, Vargas knocked down Ali twice before the referee stopped the fight in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO welterweight championship.
Crawford tends to go at a slower pace with a methodical style. The Nebraskan picked apart Viktor Postol last month at the MGM Grand Garden to unify the WBO and WBC belts at 140 pounds. Crawford said after the fight he would only accept a Pacquiao matchup if he came down from 147 pounds.
“It doesn’t make sense for (Pacquiao) to come down,” Vargas said. “He’s gonna fight at welterweight. I have the WBO welterweight belt. We’re gonna fight for it. That makes sense.”
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), who has fought at 147 pounds the past seven years, said he chose a fight with Vargas because he’s a champion. The future Hall of Famer said his training camp will be in Manila, Philippines, so he can continue his work in the Senate.
“I miss my boxing routine of training, the things I do for my sport every day,” said Pacquiao, 37, who ended a brief retirement. “But I assure my people my fight and training will not affect my work as a senator.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who confirmed Pacquiao’s announcement, said he plans on holding a news conference with Pacquiao and Vargas in Los Angeles next month.
After a few hiccups, Arum has found a venue and an opponent for Pacquiao, but the fight is still missing a TV network. HBO hasn’t confirmed it will televise the pay-per-view bout. The premium cable channel is committed to the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward matchup Nov. 19. It’s rare when HBO has two PPVs in the same month.
If HBO passes on Pacquiao-Vargas, Arum can go a different route, possibly a streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon.
Regardless of where the fight will air, Vargas, 27, said fans will get their money’s worth.
“It’s strange to say I’m not well-known,” he said. “I don’t hear that too much. That comes from the boxing sites. Those sites don’t look at what the fans want. This is a fight the fans will enjoy.”
Vargas’ biggest match on his resume was a unanimous decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. at the Stubhub Center in Carson, California, in June 2015. Vargas was sluggish for 11 rounds before rocking Bradley with 10 seconds left in the 12th. The referee mistakenly stopped the fight early, not allowing Vargas a chance to record a comeback knockout in the final seconds.
To this day, Vargas still has regrets from the Bradley match. He vows to be the fighter he was against Ali when he faces Pacquiao for his first title defense.
“There were mistakes made (against Bradley),” Vargas said. “I was a different fighter in a negative way. I have corrected those mistakes. I look forward to beating Pacquiao and defending my belt for a long time.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at email@example.com or 702-383-0492. Follow him on Twitter: @gmanzano24
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