One of the worst things about boing in the last few years has been the sheer number of bouts that have had to be cancelled for one reason or another. Recently Covid19 has caused a lot of mess to planned bouts, but so to have things like visa issues and injuries. One bout that has been cancelled recently is a show down between Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39) and unbeaten American Welterweight star Errol Spence Jr (27-0, 21), in what was set to be one of the boxing highlights of the summer. That was cancelled when Spence was deemed medically unfit to fight. Thankfully however American based Cuban Yordenis Ugas (26-4, 12) shows his fighters mentality and has taken his chance to face Pacquiao in Spences' absence in a bout we'll get this weekend.
Whilst clearly a big step down from what we were expecting, this is still a really good bout, and one with a really interesting sub story, that of the WBA Welterweight "Super" title which was taken from Pacquiao by the WBA last year. The styles should also gel well, and in many ways this could end up being a very fan friendly bout even if Ugas doesn't have the star power than Spence does.
Before we talk about what we expect when we get the men in to the ring, we do need to touch on the WBA super title back story. Paquiao won that title in 2019, when he defeated Keith Thurman in a brilliant performance at the age of 40. That was, however, 2 years ago. In early 2021 Pacquiao of the title due to inactivity, during a time when a pandemic forced a lot of fighters to be inactive, and was named champion in Recess. Following Pacquiao being stripped Ugas was upgraded from the Regular champion, something he became in September 2020 with a win over Abel Ramos, to the Super champion, despite having never defended the regular title. Whilst it might seem like a little thing, especially in an era where the WBA pop out titles at an alarming rate, it was still a very questionable decision, especially given that they have not yet had a bout for the regular title since Ugas won it, in September 2020.
On to the fighters themselves, it's fair to say that Pacquiao needs no introduction. The Filipino fighter has been a staple of the sport for over 20 years, and has made a name for himself as one of the sports few truly global mega stars. He's been a Filipino hero, a huge international fan favourite, and one of the legends of the sport. His moves through the weights has been remarkable, as has his longevity, and sustained success at the top. He is one of the true greats and has won titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight, whilst also having a fun style, putting on great fights and beating a string of icons, hall of famers, and modern greats.
Sadly at the age of 42, and with 2 years of inactivity, it's really hard to know what Pacquiao has left in the tank, though he did look very good against Keith Thurman, dropping Thurman on route to a decision win. He's not the explosive Phenom that he once was, and is much slower now a days to what he once was, but he's adapted brilliantly, he's still heavy handed, and he knows how to control the tempo of bouts well. He's used his experience, ring craft and the lessons learned in the ring to change his style, and rather than being the explosive dervish of destruction, he's now a more apt, skilled and rounded fighter. In his last few fights he's still looked dangerous, but he's less active and much smarter between the ropes, rather than the risk taking aggressive monster he once was.
For years Yordenis Ugas was an over-looked threat in the Light Welterweight and Welterweight divisions, and one of the sports unlucky men. So far 3 of his 4 losses have been split decisions, including one to Shawn Porter, and he's not really had much fortune at all during his career. In fact getting a Pacquiao payday on short notice is the one true bit of luck he's had, and sadly at the age of 35 it may well be too little too late for him to really make the most of. Despite being a hard luck fighter he's become a bit of a fan favourite in recent years, thanks to a mix of his poor luck, and good story, as well as his in ring style and willingness to face anyone any time. During his 30 fight career he has faced numerous unbeaten fighters, and man who were seen as high risk low reward, such as Levan Ghvamichava, Thomas Dulorme and Ray Robinson, and has not been someone willing to turn down a fighter or an opportunity. Something we again see here.
Unlike some Cuban fighters, we're looking Guillermo Rigondeaux, Ugas isn't scared of a fight. He's not a true all out war monger, but he's a fighter who has always shown a willingness to go to war when he needs to, and is happy to get on the front foot. He's a smart boxer, and doesn't take too many undue risks, but he's also not going to make fans boo him out of the venue. Instead he's an aggressive, intelligent fighter, who can spoil when he needs to, dig deep when he needs to, and is a fighter who grits his teeth when he's behind, making a lot of his fights very close. Ugas is often in front of his man, using a good jab, pressing forward and fighting a smart, yet exciting style of fight, where punches will be traded, and he does open up with some very nice flurries whilst also being defensively smart. He is however now 35 years old, and we do wonder whether father time, and inactivity, could begin to take a toll on him in the coming years. He's younger than Pacquiao, sure, but he's also not the once in a life time talent that Pacquiao is, and it could be that Ugas has lost more to father time than the Filipino.
One thing we're expecting here is a bout that is fought in an exciting manner, even if neither man is a spring chicken. We expect the styles to gel really well, with Ugas intelligently pressuring, and Pacquiao looking to get bursts of shots off before getting out of ring. It won't be an intense fight, we don't think either man has it in them to consistently throw 100 punches in a round, but we do expect some really exciting back and forth moments. Ugas will get to Pacquiao at times, and as the rounds go on the pressure of Ugas will get him more and more success.
Sadly for the Cuban we think, by the time he begins to grind down the Filipino, he will have left himself too much to do, as we've seen from him at times in the past, and whilst it will be close, hotly contested and exciting, we suspect Pacquiao will have the rounds in the bank to take home a close, and debated, split decision win.
Prediction - SD12 Pacquiao
When we talk about modern day boxing legends few can compare to Filipino great Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39), who has done stuff that many wouldn't have dreamed possible in our great sport. The looks to continue his career this coming Saturday and add yet another notable win to his incredible resume as he battles unbeaten and popular American Keith Thurman (29-0-0-1, 22) and looks to unify the WBA "regular" title, which he won last year, with Thurman's "Super" title. A win for Pacquiao would be yet another cherry on top of a career that has had so much success, and would prove, even at the age of 40, that he was still an active legend. For Thurman the bout acts as a chance to finally get an elite level name on his record, after years of talking about being a special fighter.
Pacquiao, of course better known as "Pacman", has had the story of his career told, re-told and re-told once again. The early days, putting weights in his pockets to and fighting as a 16 year old in small venues of the Philippines, making a name for himself and fighting to eat, to his modern day status as one of the greatest fighters in living memory and a fighter who has made more money than most people could ever dream of. During his 24 year career he has done so much, moving from Flyweight all the way up to Light Middleweight, grabbing titles in almost every division along the way and fighting in a variety of countries. He has been one of boxing's few true, global stars and a man who has transcended the sport whilst creating a resume that reads like a history of boxing greats.
From beating Chatchai Sasakul in 1998 to beating Adrien Broner earlier this year Pacquiao has spent 20 years at world level and has the right to retire as a legend whenever he wishes. Instead however he wants to build on his legacy and etch his name deeper into the annals of boxing history.
Not only has Pacquiao been at the top for longer than most but he has done so whilst adapting, changing and altering his style. Early on he was a crude, left hand happy power puncher, before becoming a dynamic dervish of 2-handed power and speed, then as age got to him he began to show more boxing finesse, picking his power punches and building on his ring craft to control the pace and tempo. Even at his current age he is still a lighting quick fighter, but knows that he needs to pace himself a little more, fighting at a controlled range and using his dynamite left hand to force any fighter to respect him. He's certainly past his peak, but has adapted to prolong his career and his success.
At the age of 30 Keith Thurman is a man who really should be a big star than he is, or perhaps he could have bee a much bigger star than he is. He's a good looking, charismatic guy, who early on had a fun style, with explosive power. He combined a style in the ring with a confident personality and a cool cat persona. He was an easy guy to root for, as the Welterweight division shifted focus from the old men on top to the new breed breaking through. Sadly though Thurman never really had the transition he needed, he could never get the passing of the torch fight, and lost some of his best years through injury and inactivity.
In 2013 Thurman beat former world champion Jan Zaveck, in a big win at the time, then stopped Diego Gabriel Chaves for the WBA "interim" world title, which he defended at the end of the year against Jesus Soto Karass. Those 3 wins saw him with an unbeaten record, 20 T/KO's from 22 wins, and a title. He was just 25 and looked like he had the keys to the Welterweight castle. Since then however he has gone 9-0 (2), fighting just 7 times in 5 years and rarely looking like the man many had pegged him for. For much of that reign his competition lacked quality and real threat, with only Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia really regarded as threats to Thurman on paper. The others were typically older fighters, with their best years behind them, like Julio Diaz, Roberto Guerrero and Luis Collazo. Despite the less than amazing competition the WBA have stood by his side, and he has moved from interim to regular to Super Champion during his reign with their title.
Whilst injuries certainly were a problem for Thurman his attitude had changed. When he was climbing the ranks it was all about taking over, being the avoided man, the hot young gun that no one wanted to face. Since winning the title however he has become the thing he complained about. He's failed to take on the rising lions of the emerging wave, the likes of Errol Spence Jr, and and 7 of his last 9 have come against men the wrong side of 30, with Pacquiao joining those older foes of Thurman's. A shame we've not seen him in with the fellow best, given his athletic and exciting style, his boxer-puncher ability and his genuinely nasty finishing.
Whilst Pacquiao, at his best, would have been strongly favoured over a fighter like Thurman, it's now a case of questioning how much Pacquiao has left in the tank.He looked like he had lost a couple of steps in his win over Broner earlier this year, and Lucas Matthysse looked so washed last year that it's hard to know how good the Pacquiao of today really is. Thurman hasn't lived up to his expectations, he's not shown world class power at world level, but given such a big age and natural size advantage it's hard to go against him, especially given that Pacquiao has so many questions hanging over his head.
We would love to see Pacquiao add Thurman's name to a resume that includes Chatchai Sasakul, Lehlo Ledwaba, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley. Sadly though we fear father time will finally catch up to the Pacman.
Prediction TKO10 Thurman.
This coming Saturday we get the first major US bout featuring an Asian fighter, as Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) defends his WBA Welterweight title against controversial American Adrien Broner (33-3-1-1, 24). For Pacquiao the bout will be the first of the title he won last July, when he stopped Lucas Matthysse, whilst Broner will be looking to reclaim the title he lost to Marcos Maidana in 2013.
At the age of 40 it's hard to know exactly what Pacquiao has left, however last time out he looked better than he had in a while, with some new found hunger and desire. It wasn't the Pacquiao of his heyday, where he was a destructive maelstrom of punches, but it was a sharp, hard hitting and smart Pacquiao. He was accurate, landing left hands at will and using his experience and skills to stop Matthysse. Amazingly the stoppage of Matthysse was Pacquiao's first since he stopped Miguel Cotto back in 2009.
At his very best Pacquiao was one of the all time greats, capable of living with the best in any era. Not only could have claim to have been one of the best, but he could also claim to have been one of the best in a number of divisions, having won world titles from 112lbs up to 154lbs. Now a days however it's clear that we're not looking at the same Pacquiao. He's still a very explosive southpaw, with a demonic straight left hand, however he has lost some speed, some ferocity and some of his energy. He's adapted his style well, and he's still a fantastic fighter, but not the man who defeated the likes of Chatchai Sasakul, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, among others.
An 80% Pacquiao would still be favoured over most fighters, but it's really not clear if we have an 80% Pacquiao or not. If we do it's always hard to bet against him.
Broner was once regarded as the heir apparent for Floyd Mayweater Jr. He was a skilled, counter puncher with a loud and brash attitude, that helped to generate a lot of buzz. He quickly went through the weigh classes, claiming titles from Super Featherweight to Welterweight, but it seemed like he move up due to an inability to control his weight, rather than naturally growing into bigger divisions.At the lower weights he was physically strong, powerful, quick and explosive. As he's moved up in weight he's kept the quickness, but is less physically imposing, less destructive and less active, in fact he's rather lazy in the ring, with low out put.
Technically Broner is a very talented fighter. When he actually uses his brain he's excellent. He's a sharp puncher, has a solid defense, impressive power and good timing. Sadly however his biggest issues in boxing, and it seems outside of boxing, is his brain and he's proven to not be the smartest or most dedicated fighter. Instead he's proving to be someone willing to derail his own career on a regular basis. If he clicks and can get up for a fight, and maintain the mental aspect that he needs he can be a major player, at least at Light Welterweight, but we're unsure whether he will ever make the most of his potential.
Given the age of Pacquiao we won't rule out a Broner win, but that would be an upset. We suspect Pacquiao will box to orders, move, stay busy and use his speed to simply out box a lazy Broner. Broner does have the skills and power to beat a faded Pacquiao, but we're not sure he has the mentality to beat the Filipino icon, even a 40 year old Pacquiao.
Our prediction is a wide UD to Pacquiao on this one.
In recent memory the Welterweight division has been one of the most significant divisions to the sport, with huge super fights and some of the sports most popular fighters competing in the division. Right now it's still an important division but does seem to be waiting for it's next super fight. Fighters like Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Terence Crawford all look like they are going to be part of the the next generation of divisional super fights, yet none are currently looking like they are set to clash, at least not for now.
With the new generation coming through we're at an interesting position in the division with two veterans set to face off this coming Sunday with WBA champion Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-4-0-1, 36) defending his title against Filipino boxing idol Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38) in Kuala Lumpur. Both have looked like they are a long way removed from their best, with their last outings showing them to be shadows of their former selves. Matthysse was last seen in the ring defeating Teerachai Kratingdaenggym for the title back in January, but had struggled before pulling out an 8th round KO of the Thai. Pacquiao on the other hand hasn't fought since his controversial loss to Jeff Horn in July 2017. Added to their poor recent performances are their ages, with Pacquiao 39 years old, 40 in December, and Matthysse being 35, 36 in September. Neither man is a youngster, both have looked poor, and both will know that anything but a win here will likely end their career's.
Of the two men it's certainly Pacquiao who has had the more distinguished career. The Filipino Southpaw has been one of the few fighters to transcend the sport and is seen as not only a boxing icon but a key Filipino figure and a key sporting figure. He has turned his boxing success into a political career in his homeland and is well known for his charitable work outside of the ring. Inside the ring he was, arguably, the most destructive man in the sport for over a decade starting in 1998, when he stopped Chatchai Sasakul for the WBC Flyweight title right through to 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto for the WBO Welterweight title.
At his very best Pacquiao was an aggressive, fast, combination punching Phenom with brutal power in his left hand, and explosive quickness. Sadly Pacquiao of the last few years has lost a lot of what made him special. His intensity and energy are gone, the fire seems to be going out, and at 39 there is real question marks regarding what he still has left in the tank. Even when he has dominated fighters, like Jessie Vargas, Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios, there hasn't quite been the same desire in his eyes as there was during his peak. Given his inactivity and age there is real questions as to whether he can even show glimpses of his old self.
Matthysse was, for a long time, one of the best active fighters to never win a proper world title. Between 2010 and 2014 he went from being an obscure Argentinian fighter in his homeland to being recognised as a leading Light Welterweight. He did that by travelling to the US and facing the likes of Zab Judah, Devon Alexander, Humberto Soto, Ajose Olusegun, Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. Whilst he would pick up some losses during that run, including very controversial ones to Judah and Alexander, he had proven he belong in the mix and claimed the WBC interim title along the way. He had also made fans, his exciting, power based style, made him an almost instant fan favourite and later wars with John Molina and Ruslan Provodnikov were both sensational action bouts.
Sadly for Matthysse a loss to Viktor Postol in 2017 caused Matthysse career to stall as he suffered a serious eye injury and would be out of the ring for over a year. Since then he has scored wins over Emmanuel Taylor and Teerachai, but looked a shadow of himself against the Thai, who made Matthysse look old, clumsy and slow.
This isn't so much of a super fight between two notable veterans with exciting styles. It's more of a retirement bout in our eyes, with the loser literally having no where to go. The winner will have a bargaining chip for another big fight down the line. But even then it's unlikely they'll manage to pick up another notable win, given how poor they looked last time out. We suspect Pacquiao's inactivity and age will be his downfall here, but given how poor Matthyse looked against Teerachai there is a good chance that Pacquiao will use what's left of his speed to pick up one more huge win for his legacy.
One of the big boxing revelations of 2017 was Thai power puncher Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who made his US debut and took a close decision over Roman Gonzalez for the WBC Super Flyweight title. The Thai then went back to the US and scored a second win over Gonzalez, knocking out the Nicaraguan great to really prove his first win wasn't a fluke. This coming weekend we see another Thai make his US debut with the hopes of breaking out from obscurity and beating a recognisable name from Latin America.
The Thai in question is Teerachai Kratingdaenggym (38-0, 28), a rare Thai who fights at Welterweight. Despite his long unbeaten record he hasn't really made a mark of any kind outside of Asia, though is a fighter who has been in more than 30 PABA title fights and has certainly made a mark on the regional scene. Despite being a fixture on the Pacific and Asian boxing scenes he is a total known compared to his upcoming foe, hard hitting Argentinian star Lucas Martin Matthysse (38-4-0-1, 35), who has fought numerous bouts in the US during his exciting career.
Although unknown in the West Teerachai has been scoring notable C tier wins during his career, which began just over 10 years ago. These have included wins over Dan Nazareno Jr, Romeo Jakosalem, Randy Suico, Larry Siwu, and Vladimir Baez. None of those would be fit to test Matthysse, but in reality they are far from bad fighters, with Suico and Jakosalem being former OPBF champions and Baez now set for a Japanese title fight. The gap between them and Matthysse is huge, but they are decent wins for a rising contender, like Teerachai has been.
Teerachai has looked like a talented, but flawed, fighter coming through the ranks. He has appeared to depend a lot on his size and physical strength at times but can box, and his KO win against Baez showed that Teerachai can cope with very aggressive fighters and can counter that aggression well. His finishing shot against Baez was an absolute peach of a right hand, but he had also used a measured and stiff jab to keep Baez at range. That jab will have to be a key if he's to defeat the naturally smaller Matthysse,, but landing it on a world class fighter will be a million miles harder than it's been at the regional level.
Although a notable name now a days Matthysse was a relative unknown outside of Argentina early in his career. For some it wasn't until his controversial 2010 loss to Zab Judah that he managed to make a mark on the sport, with his even more controversial loss the following year to Devon Alexander really establishing him as being one to watch. Wins over Humberto Soto, Ajose Olusegun, Mike Dallas Jr and Lamont Peterson all showed that Matthysse was a definitive world class fighter, and despite a loss to Danny Garcia he has remained a fixture at world level, despite a stoppage loss in 2015 to Viktor Postol.
In the ring Matthysse is a viciously hard hitting fighter. He's tough, spiteful with his punches but can genuinely box rather well. He has often been regarded as crude and a slugger, but the reality is that he's a very solid boxer, who is just blessed with brutal power. Sadly he is now 35 with just 5 rounds under his belt in the last 2 years and is naturally quite a small fighter at 147lbs, despite being a huge puncher. Physically he's not much taller, or rangier, than Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi, and whilst he is very powerful it was clear that he can struggle with tall rangy fighters, as he did against Postol.
The Argentinian is the clear favourite. He's the more proven fighter, the more well known man and the one with the power. Though as we saw last year there is a gritty determination among Thai fighters, which sees them take a chance when offered one.
We're expecting to see Teerachai make the most of this huge opportunity and look to establish his jab, keep Matthysse at range and frustrate the ageing Argentinian. Matthysse at his best almost certainly sees off Teerachai within 5 or 6 rounds. But this version of Matthysse is 10 years older than Teerachai, has had wear and tear from bouts with Postol, Rusklan Provodnikov, John Molina Jr, Danny Garcia, Humberto Soto and many more others. We're going on on the limb and predicting the upset here, with a shock win for Teerachai.
When we talk about modern day boxing legends there are a number of names that will remain immortal. One of those is Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38) who has really been one of the few true global stars of boxing over the last decade or so. Now, at the age of 38, Pacquiao is clearly coming to the end of his career but he is still a world champion and this coming weekend we'll see him defending his WBO Welterweight title against the little known Jeff Horn (16-0-1, 11), who will be getting the opportunity of a life time. On paper the match is a huge mismatch, matching one of the all time greats against a man who has scarcely shown he's the best in his own country, however it could the birth of a new star and a national hero for Australia, which is rather lacking in terms of boxing stars right now.
When it comes to Pacquiao everything that can be said has already been said. He's a boxing hero of the Philippines who moved through the weights to claim world titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight and did so whilst defeating a who's who of boxing. Among those he defeated were Chatchai Sasakul, for his first world title back in 1998, Lehlo Ledwaba, in his US debut in 2001, Marco Antonio Barrera, twice, Erik Morales, twice, Juan Manuel Marquez, twice, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Timothy Bradley, twice.
At his best Pacquiao was a fearsome monster, destroying all in front of him and stopping fighters like Cotto, Hatton and Morales and Bareer. In later years that explosive destruction eluded him but his boxing had improved to the point where he could out box bigger and younger men like Chris Algieri and Jessie Vargas, and there was still enough spite in his shots to drop good fighters. Not only was he a monster in his prime but he had everything, frightening speed, destructive power, a great engine and the movement to confound and confuse opponents, who were unable to avoid what they simply couldn't see.
Aged 38, and with his 39th birthday coming in December, it's hard to know just how much Pacquiao has left in the tank. He's had 67 professional bouts, with more than 440 rounds and over 20 world title bouts and in recent years he has taken part in more and more out-of-the ring activity with politics and basketball both occupying his time. If he's even half the fighter he once was then he's still one of the best fighters on the planet, but there is certainly some slipping in his ability, and his hunger to finish opponents has seemingly vanished in recent years.
Aged 29 Jeff Horn is a fighter coming into his prime and he's a natural Welterweight who is now carrying the hopes of a nation on his shoulders. Australia may not be a major boxing country but right now they really are lacking with the likes of Sakio Bika, Danny Green and Anthony Mundine all about done with their careers. That hope has been on his shoulders through out his career, following notable success in the amateurs which lead to Horn competing at the 2011 World Amateur Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
As a professional Horn has been fast tracked. In just his 5th bout he faced Samuel Colomban for the Australian title and since then has fought a string of decent fighters, including the likes of Viktor Plotnikov, Ahmed El Mousaoui, Randall Bailey and Ali Funeka. They have been decent opponents, and ones that would help prepare a fighter for a step up to world class, but unfortunately they don't prepare anyone for a fighter like Pacquiao. Even this current version of “Pacman”. Sadly if anything they have exposed chinks in Horn that Pacquiao and his team will look to make the most of.
In the ring Horn is a pretty decent boxer. There's nothing flashy or special about him. He doesn't have the most intense pressure style or the blink and you miss it speed that a top fighter needs, but he has good skills and under-rated power, with his KO over Colomban being a sensational 1-punch KO of a usually durable and tough guy. If he lands clean he can take opponents out, but landing against a world class fighter is much trickier than landing against fighters at domestic level.
Horn does have youth on his side here, but it's hard to imagine him being able to really test Pacquiao here. Instead this bout looks likely to be a real show case of Pacquiao, who should be looking for his first stoppage win since he stopped Miguel Cotto way back in 2009. Horn, who has been down before, simply isn't good enough, or prepared enough for someone like Pacquiao, who will have too much of everything, even at his advanced age, for the Aussie challenger.
Retirements in boxing are short, we've seen multiple fighters retire more than once. The latest great to retire and then un-retire, is Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38) who retired back in April, follow his third bout against Timothy Bradley, but less than 7 months later to face WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10), who actually lost to Bradley himself in mid 2015.
Pacquiao's retirement, at the age of 37, wasn't hugely unexpected, and neither was his return to the ring. Though some did expect that he would be away from the ring for a bit longer than a meagre 7 months. At his age it's hard to say just what he has left, but he was dominant last time when he easily defeat Bradly, dropping the American twice and winning 116-110 on all 3 cards. Despite his age he is still one of the best fighters on the planet with under-rated skills, explosive power and speed and the experience that most other fights can only dream of.
Although not as destructive as he was in years gone by, at lower weights, Pacquiao is still a real handful for anyone and losses to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Juan Manuel Marquez in recent years don't change that. Especially not when you consider his relatively recent wins against the likes of Bradley, Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri, all of whom posed different stylistic questions of Pacquiao.
With his legacy safely sealed the Filipino is no longer fighting for his place in history. He's assured a place in the hall of fame, having won titles from Flyweight to Light Middleweight, he's a national treasure of the Philippines and is a fighter who is now achieving things out of the ring, having become a senator in his homeland. With his off the ball there is a chance we will see Pacquaio be a shadow of the fighter who beat Bradley with ease, alternatively there is a chance that Pacquiao, fighting for himself, will be back to the fighter he once was knowing there is no pressure to fight for others. If we see Pacquiao return to being the destructive, aggressive, monster he once was then we might well see him looking unbeatable, as he looked years ago.
At the age of 27 Vargas is 10 years younger than Pacquiao and is in his physical pomp. That was seen clearly last time out when he scored his best stoppage win, stopping the previously unbeaten and highly touted Sadam Ali in 9 rounds. In his bout before that he came close to scoring an incredibly late stoppage against Tom Bradley, in a competitive losing effort. The loss to Bradley has been Vargas's only defeat in 28 bouts, over a career that started back in September 2008.
In the ring Vargas has been accused of being boxing, and early in his career he was certainly not an exciting fighter to watch. He was a busy fighter, who let his hands go on a frequent basis, but lacked power and rarely sat down on his shots. That lack of power lead to 10 straight decision wins between September 2011 and his 2015 loss to Bradley and led many to turn away from his bouts, however he has began sitting on punches more recent and has grown into a relatively fun fighter who a full fledged Welterweight and will tower over Pacquiao and have a clear reach advantage.
Whilst not regarded as a major star Vargas has actually been notching solid wins in recent years, even if some were controversial. Those wins include victories over the likes of Josesito Lopez, Steve Forbes, Aaron Martinez, Wale Omotoso, Khabib Allakhverdiev, Anton Novikov, Antonio DeMarco and Sadam Ali. Notably he has been proving himself against unbeaten fighters through his career, with 7 wins over unbeaten fighters including Ali (22-0), Novikov (29-0), Allakhverdiev (19-0) and Omotoso (23-0).
Up against Pacquiao we will see Vargas being forced to answer some serious questions. Will he be able to take Pacquiao's power, will he be able to establish his tempo and will he manage to use his youth and physical size to bully and out work the Filipino?
The popular opinion is that Pacquiao will easily over-come Vargas. He is, after all, Pacquiao, the great Filipino icon. But this really could turn out to be a passing of the torch fight with Vargas hold advantages in youth and size. We know Pacquiao has battered taller fighters, like Antonio Margarito and Chris Algieri, but that was years ago and this could be a much tougher ask. Saying that we do think Pacquiao will still have enough in the tank to reclaim the WBO Welterweight title, but we don't think this will be as easy as some are suggesting.
They say that in life the best things come to those who wait and that wine becomes finer with age. Sadly however things can also spoil with age, the waiting process can go on too long and things can over-cook and end up burned. Around 5 years ago we were all wanting to see Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38) battle against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr (47-0, 26). It was, essentially, the one bout that could capture the attention of every boxing fan. It was, at the time, the two top fighters in the sport facing each other whilst both were still in their primes. At the time Mayweather was 33 and had just schooled the great Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao on the other hand was 31 and had just decimated Miguel Cotto.
Since then both men have slipped. Pacquiao, now 36, has gone 7-2 (0), he's been iced by Marquez and his much vaunted power has seemingly vanished along with his killer instinct. What we have now is a Pacquiao who seems to have lost a lot of what made him so special and the stoppages over Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton are now looking like history. As for Mayweather, now 38, he's gone 7-0 (1) and has looked distinctly human in his last 2 bouts, both decision wins against Marcos Rene Maidana.
Despite the fact that neither man is what they used to be, the bout is now made and on May 2nd we finally see the two men sharing the ring together. The bout, the biggest in the history of the sport, will see the WBA, WBC and WBO Welterweight title all being unified. It will set all sorts of records, it will get the attention of the sporting world, and of course it will be the bout of the generation It will, essentially, decide the fighter of the generation and, regardless of the winner, it will leave many fans distraught at their man losing and many others jubilant that their man won. It will however feel, to some neutrals, like a bout that lost some shine due to the fact it took so long to get it done.
Anyway now that's out of the way lets look at what makes this bout so special. Firstly you have the two most popular fighters of their era and two men who have, essentially, been viewed as each others nemesis. Their achievements are both through the roof with world titles across a wide range of divisions. They are the two biggest draws in the sport, and among the very biggest draws across all of sport. Culturally they are different, they appeal to different sections of boxing fans yet they have both made themselves cross over stars. To many this bout is boxing's equivalent to the ultimate “good guy” Vs “bad guy” battle. Most importantly however they are seen not as contrasting men outside of the ring but also as contrasting men inside the ring. One has been a slippery counter puncher, a man who is so elusive in the ring that many describe him as the greatest defensive fighter ever whilst the other is an offensive buzzsaw who sliced through many of the sports premier names in destructive fashion.
Is that's last point that makes this bout what is it is. The best defensive fighter against one of the best offensive fighters. On paper we will find what is ultimately better, a sensational offence or a near unbreakable defense.
In the eyes of many Mayweather is the “bad guy” of boxing. He has spent time in jail and been involved in various out of the ring activities. He has happily told us he's “The Best Ever” and although incredibly talented he has made many fans tune in to see him lose. On the other hand he's an example of what boxing is truly about, he's a master in the sweet science and one of the best at hitting and not being hit. We won't pretend he's the most exciting fighter on the planet but it is magical to see him at his best, slipping shots and landing laser like counters, rolling the shoulder to just avoid a blow and making an opponent pay for having the gall to try and hit him.
Whilst Mayweather isn't evil he has happily painted himself into the corner of being the man many pay to hate. He is, to use a wrestling term, a “heel” and it's a role that he seems to be happy with having. It's a role that's allowed him to make so much money that he now goes by the moniker of “Money”.
To those same fans Pacquiao is the “good guy”, he's the family man, a man of the people and a national icon who has set his intentions on making a difference via the politics of his homeland. He has used his money to help his countrymen and has come across as a humble person, happy to be able to use his talent to further the lives of those less fortunate. Not only has he been a positive person outside of the ring but inside of it he is known for giving fans what they want with destructive performances of aggression. In terms of excitement there are few who can match the excitement Pacquiao has generated over he course of his career with his combinations, knockouts and brutal beat downs.
Again to use a wrestling analogy Pacquiao is the “baby face” though that's a role that he's formed more organically that Mayweather's “heel” persona. Pacquiao has become a by simply being a personable person as opposed to telling the world that he's a nice person.
The contrasts however go on and on. For example Mayweather is happy to tell the world he's his own boss, Pacquiao on the other hand has been open about being a fighter with Bob Arum as his boss. In many ways the only things they have in common is their chosen profession and their claim to being an all-time great.
When it comes to the actual fight we expect the action to start slowly. Whilst the men are massively different they are both respectful of their opponent. Neither man wants to make a mistake early. For the first few rounds it will be a frustrating affair to watch with neither man really letting their offense go. For Mayweather that's perfect in many ways with the fight being fought more at his pace, it will however limit his eye catching counters with Pacquiao giving fewer opportunities that than the American would have hoped for. Whilst Pacquiao will be able to frustrate Mayweather by being restrained he won't be imposing himself or his style, at least not from the off.
We expect the pace to heat up from round 4. That's typically the point where Mayweather begins to find his groove but also the point in the fight where Pacquiao will have to come alive. From then on we're expecting to see the great bursts of Pacquiao's offense against Mayweather's great defense. The bursts of 4 or 5 shots will keep Mayweather in his defensive shell, though openings will begin to appear in Pacquiao's defense. From then on things will become very interesting with both men unsure how the judges will score things. Will they be scoring for Pacquiao, who will be the aggressor, or for Mayweather who will be landing the better shots? That is anyone's guess and it's what will make the latter part of the fight so interesting.
Mayweather's biggest problem in recent fights has been his habit of cruising through rounds, especially late on. At 38 his energy isn't going to be what it once was and although he has great stamina he has been able to fight at his own pace against fighters with slow foot movement. Against Pacquiao he'll be rushed, he won't have the time to take a breather and he'll be fighting someone with similar footspeed. If he tries to take rounds off here it will bite him. Instead we expect Mayweather will have to fight for at least 2 minutes of every round and that will show later on as both men bite down on their gum shields and try to force the judges hands. We'll see Mayweather fighting more than he has done in years and we'll Pacquiao showing some of the fire many thought was gone.
We suspect that, come the final bell, it'll be anyone's guess as to who has done enough. Fans will back “their man” and feel like their guy has just done enough. Of course however it'll lay on the judges and we'd not be shocked to see any type of scorecards. That's partly because boxing throws up some weird scorecards and also partly the fact that we can see how both men win.
As a prediction we will edge with the younger man, Pacquiao to take a razor thin and highly controversial decision. The bout, whilst good, will fail to live up to expectation in the ring and although records will be shattered we won't be able to help but think it was this generation's Hagler Vs Leonard as opposed to the real mega fighter it could have been. Strangely we see the post-fight outcome also mirroring the Hagler Vs Leonard bout with Mayweather retiring after the contest, something we'd also expect him to do if he won.
We'll admit that this weekend is one of the busiest of the year so far with more notable world title action for ourselves than any other weekend. Despite the over-all activity for the day we are well aware that one bout stands out as being head and shoulders the biggest bout, not just of the weekend but the entire month of November.
That bout is the WBO Welterweight title fight between boxing megastar and current champion Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38) and unbeaten American, and all-round good guy, Chris Algieri (20-0, 8). The bout, being fought in Macau, is being seen as a major contest by all those in the boxing community and, as we've gotten closer to the bout, it appears more and more fans have began to give Algieri a real shot at the upset.
Algieri got the fight after announcing himself on to the boxing world with a hard fought and much debated decision win over "Russian Rocky" Ruslan Provodnikov. That bout saw Algieri put on a Rocky-esque performance picking himself off the canvas twice in the opening round, biting down on his gum shield and fighting his heart out despite a badly swollen eye to claim a narrow decision over Provodnikov to claim the WBO Light Welterweight title. The win over Provodnikov prevented any further talk about a Pacquiao Vs Provodnikov bout and put Algieri into the driving seat for a Pacquiao fight that was agreed relatively soon after Algieri's win.
Out of the ring Algieri is the perfect good guy. He's articulate, smart, charming and very likable. He's everything that a fighter should be out of the ring and is full of respect for his sport, people in general and of course his opponents. There is no real bluster about him, you won't hear him yelling about how good he is and you won't see him try and convince the world that he is a once in a generation super talent. Instead of being cocky and arrogant Algieri is a fighter who comes across as well educated and a man who knows he's got a great chance to go from a "good guy" to a mega star.
The educated guy outside of the ring also fights like an educated and well schooled guy inside the ring. He bases almost everything off the jab, movements intelligently and although he was caught under the Provodnikov storm early on he steadied himself, took a knee, took his time and began to work out the Russian whilst using his foot work to prevent Provodnikov from setting himself. It was the type of performance that you would almost expect from Algieri if you've had the chance to listen to him talk. It was also the type of performance that showed he had skills, toughness and heart, the type of qualities that could have make the kid with the million dollar smile a star.
Of course whilst Algieri wants to become a star Manny Pacquiao already is a star and is one of the few global names in boxing. The Filipino icon is a boxing star, a professional basketball player, an actor, a singer, a politician and most importantly a hero to his countrymen. Like Algieri he is one of boxing's "good guys", a fighter who respects his opponents, keeps the trash talk to a minimum whilst letting his hands do the talking in the ring. It's fair to say he's never going to offend large swathes of the boxing community or say something just to cause controversy.
Although similar in demeanor out of the ring the two fighters have very contrasting styles. Algieri, as mentioned, is a thinker with a boxers mentality basing things off his jab, movement and control of distance. Pacquiao on the other hand is an animal, a whirring dervish, a destructive machine looking to leave chaos in his wake. At his best the Filipino is a frightening fighter to be up against with a dynamite left hand, under-rated boxing skills and offensive mentality which, for a long time, seemed to make him the complete opposite to Floyd Mayweather in terms of style as well as personality. Quick, powerful and destructive Pacquiao can spit out opponents in double quick fashion, just ask Ricky Hatton, whilst he can also grind them out and break them bit by bit, as he did against Miguel Cotto.
To make himself a star Pacquiao had to take risks. That is shown not only in his style of fighting, which is genuinely exciting, but also the opposition he has faced and in some cases the conditions regarding those bouts. He won his first world title as a teenager when he stopped the excellent Chatchai Sasakul in Thailand, he made his US debut on short notice against a very highly regard world champion in the form of Lehlo Ledwaba and then he went on to fight a who's who of boxing with fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Timothy Bradley all being fought as Pacquiao excited the boxing world like so few fighters do.
Going in to this bout there a lot of questions for both men. For Pacquiao a big questions regards his hunger, he's not a young whippersnapper any more, instead he's a veteran who has fingers in all sorts of pies and may well be tired of his career as a boxer. Another questions regarding Pacquiao is time, just how much time does his body have left fighting at the top level, he's not been a defensive fighting avoiding through his career, instead he's been involved in battles and of course battles take their toll on the body. A third question regarding Pacquiao is what does he do against a taller, rangier boxer like Algieri? Some fight fans have pointed to his impressively one-sided victory over Antonio Margarito as to how he handles tall fighters however Magarito is a fighter who cames forward and gave away his physical advantages, Algieri on the other hand is a back foot fighter who uses his physical dimensions to keep fights at a distance and fights off the jab, two very different styles.
As for Algieri their is a huge question about how he handles the explosiveness of Pacquiao who is a very different kettle of fish to Provodnikov despite both men being aggressively minded come forward fighters, afterall Pacquiao is more rounded and more active. That brings us to another point, how does Algieri cope with the intense activity of Pacquiao who always seems to be moving or throwing, or doing both at once, again a stark contrast to Provodnikov who only seemed capable of moving or throwing, not both at once. A major concern about the American is what happens when Pacquiao is inside Algieri's reach? Does Algieri have the short shots to force Pacquiao to think twice or will he just need to tie up and hope that a referee can split them? One final big question for Algieri is how will he cope in Macau with most of the crowd being very pro-Filipino and the setting being somewhat alien to him? It's true Algieri has done very well in the press conference and looked confident through out though in the ring things could be so much different.
We suspect if Pacquiao is hungry and focused he does what Provodnikov did in the first round and makes the bout look like a mismatch. If Pacquiao however is fighting at less than 90% of his best then this bout becomes very difficult for the Filipino who could end up eating a lot of jabs from Algieri on the outside which could well unsettle Pacquiao's rhythm and timing, something that is incredibly important to the Filipino fighter. Unfortunately Algieri, who we really do like as a person, we suspect his lack of power will be his downfall even if Pacquiao isn't quite on song and eventually the Pacman will get to him and stop him likely from accumulation rather than a single shot. If Pacquiao's 100% that stoppage comes inside 6 rounds, if he's not 100% then it comes in the second half of the fight.
(Image courtesy of http://www.boxnews.com.ua)
In boxing we only have a handful of really huge global names. One of those is Filipino icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (55-5-2, 28).
The 35 year old Filipino legend returns to an American ring this weekend for his first US fight since being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez back in 2012. Amazingly Pacquiao is without a win in the US since he managed to defeat Marquez, in their third meeting, all the way back in November 2011.
Pacquiao's return to America seems him trying to avenge his most controversial defeat, a much debated decision loss to unbeaten American Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley (31-0-0-1, 12). The bout, for the WBO Welterweight title, is now almost 2 years in the making and is one of this years most eagerly anticipated contest so far.
When the men first met neither was at their best. Pacquiao, although a winner of the cards of ourselves and many independent observers, wasn't his usual self. His fire looked to be on the wane, the destructive freak of nature appeared to have been tamed by something or another and the power, speed, combinations and foot work weren't what we've come to expect of Pacquiao. He still seemed to win but it wasn't the Pacquiao of old and this was plainly obvious in the later rounds when he took his foot off the gas.
At his best Pacquiao is a perpetual punching machine throwing non-stop combinations, darting in and out, circling and trying to set up his monstrous straight left hand. He's always taken a few to land a few but on the whole his package of power, speed, toughness, and explosiveness has seen him inflict more hurt than opponents tend to inflict on him
As for Bradley seemed to be tamed. His skills were their but his footwork was lacking, due to genuine issues with his legs and feet, his indomitable will to win seemed to dissipate and whilst he showed off good body movement he looked like a pale imitation of himself. It was of course Bradley who got the decision but few felt he actually deserved and even fewer felt he had been fighting the real Pacquiao.
Bradley as his best is a sharp punching machine who lacks power but makes up for it in fantastic conditioning, a refusal to lose, a genuine intensity and the ability to do almost anything. He may not be a banger but he can box well off the front foot or back foot as well as brawl when he needs to.
Since their first meeting back in June 2012 both men have fought twice. For Pacquiao those bouts have seen him going 1-1 with the aforementioned loss to Marquez and a dominant victory over Brandon Rios, who was little more than a human punch bag. Bradley however has gone a perfect 2-0 with victories over Ruslan Provodnikov, in what was a pure war, and Juan Manuel Marquez in what was a somewhat tame and forgettable encounter.
For this many this bout is the most vital bout in the career of both men. For Bradley it's a chance to prove he is better than Pacquiao and that the decision 2 years ago, rightly or wrongly, did go to the better fighter. For Pacquiao this is a chance to avenge a man who took his Welterweight title and a man who inflicted his first loss in more than 7 years. A loss for Pacquiao could well be the end of his top level boxing career whilst a victory would see fans clamouring, once again, for Pacquiao vs Mayweather a bout that is still one of the most wanted fights amongst those in the boxing fraternity. For Bradley a victory puts him as a clear top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, he'll be the only man with 2 wins over Pacquiao and he'll be the clear man to beat at 147, aside from Mayweather.
So who are we going for?
We think both men will be determined to make a statement. For Bradley this could drag him in to the wrong type of fight. If Bradley can box with Pacquiao the American could well keep his unbeaten record but if he gets dragged into the mental battle of trying to win a war he's not going to come out on top, he simply doesn't have the power or variation in his work to over-come the more dynamic Pacquiao.
For Pacquiao to win he needs to throw away the "nice guy" mentality that has seemingly become too much a part of his fights in recent years. We need the angry, violent and destructive Pacquiao, the one that battered Miguel Cotto, bludgeoned Erik Morales, smashed Marco Antonio Barrera, dismantled Ricky Hatton and, going back a bit further, iced Chatchai Sasakul.
If Bradley, as he did against Marquez, boxes intelligently on the back foot he should be to give Pacquiao a lot of problems. The American would however need to find an extra gear or two to make Pacquiao look as bad as he made Marquez looked, with Marquez looking his age in that bout. If Bradley fights as he did against Provodnikov he hasn't a chance here and will be stopped.
We're thinking Pacquiao will get Bradley to fight his fight. The men will engage more than in their first fight, Pacquiao will look to make a point of showing his fire and anger and in the final rounds, when both are starting to feel the tempo of the bout, the spitefulness of Pacquiao will return.
Although we know we'll be in the minority we're going to be going with Pacquiao by late stoppage. The words of Bradley, who has commented on Pacquiao lacing the spitefulness he once had, will come back to bite him in the behind and we'll see snarl back in Pacquiao's boxing something that has been missed by many, including ourselves, and we'll see Pacquiao becoming a world champion once again.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.