37-year-old ring legend Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) is a world champion again after a clear twelve round unanimous decision over WBO welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) Sunday morning Philippine time at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Pacquiao dropped Vargas with a straight left in round two, but Vargas fought his way back into the fight. Vargas was cut over the right eye in round eight, NSAC ruled it was caused by a punch. Pacquiao closed strong and won 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109.
Round 12: Vargas needs a KO and it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards. Pacquiao still has plenty of energy and Vargas doesn’t have the desperation of someone far behind in the last round. Pacquiao continues to control the action and has the look of a champion, albeit an old champion. Vargas does slip near the end of the round and goes to one knee but Bayless waved it off. A big win for Pacquiao. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 118, Vargas 109.)
Round 11: Pacquiao comes out with a lot of energy especially considering it’s the penultimate round. Vargas catches Pacquiao coming in but doesn’t do any appreciable damage. A right hook from Pacquiao sends Vargas to one knee but it was ruled a trip, something the replay backed up. Vargas needs a KO if he is to win this fight. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 108, Vargas 100.)
Round 10: Pacquiao lands a combination early in the round that scrambles Vargas. A straight right to Vargas’ face connects. The blood trickling from Vargas’ face doesn’t seem to be a problem. The fight is getting away from Vargas and he likely needs a knockout at this point.Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 98, Vargas 91.)
Round 9: Neither fighter seems to be hurt but both are starting to tire. No significant punches landed this round. It’s as if both fighters were taking a breather. Ties go to the legend. Vargas is going to need to do something and soon. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 88, Vargas 82.)
Round 8: After a quiet first half of the round, the fighters got interested and started throwing punches with Pacquiao getting the advantage. The fighters banged heads, opening a cut over Vargas’ nose. He did land a strong right but Pacquaio comes back. Closer than it seems but the crowd might influence the judges. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 78, Vargas 73.)
Round 7: Pacquiao is starting to land some big punches, including a good straight to the face about midway through the round. Pacquaio is controlling the ring and it’s starting to be about rounds rather than punches. Times card: Pacquaio 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 68, Vargas 64.)
Round 6: A lot of posturing through the first half of this round. Pacquiao is starting to connect on Vargas’s right eye with his left. Pacquiao seems to have regained some of his momentum in a basically quiet round. Times card: Pacquaio 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquiao 58, Vargas 55.)
Round 5: Pacquiao, appearing a little slower, lands a left but is doing little damage. The right side of Vargas’ face is starting to get a little puffy. Vargas is starting to get energized but Pacquaio answers with some shots that excite the crowd but don’t really connect. Another good round for Vargas. Times card: Vargas 10, Pacquaio 9. (Pacquaio 48, Vargas 46.)
Round 4: If Vargas is going to have any chance he needs to get going before the scoring gets out of hand. Pacquaio is starting to stalk, looking to hit a spot. Vargas finally connects on a strong right that got Pacquaio’s attention. Vargas is starting to connect with some good rights.Vargas gets the round on the strength of one punch. Times card: Vargas 10, Pacquiao 9. (Pacquiao 39, Vargas 36.)
Round 3: The third round started slowly until Pacquiao lands a combination about a minute into it. Pacquiao is definitely controlling the fight and showing no signs of his age of 37. Vargas is just appearing slower. The round is closer than the fans make it seem, but Pacquiao still takes it. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 9. (Pacquaio 30, Vargas 26.)
Round 2: A clinch about a minute into the round allows Pacquiao to land some body shots with no immediate damage but those add up. Still not much action. Pacquiao connects after some wild punches by Vargas. With 29 second left in the round Pacquiao connects on a solid left that sent Vargas to the canvas. The champion gets up but the momentum clearly has gone to Pacquaio. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Vargas 8. (Pacquiao 20, Vargas 17.)
Round 1: Pacquiao seems to have good movement through the first part of the round although Vargas was the first to land a punch. Vargas seems to be planted in the center of the ring allowing Pacquiao to circle his opponent. Vargas and Pacquiao exchange lefts although no damage is done. A very close round but a late shot by Pacquiao might have been enough to win the round. Times card: Pacquaio 10, Vargas 9.