Pac­quiao ea­ger to re­claim WBO wel­ter­weight ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Manny Pac­quiao an­nounced his re­tire­ment seven months ago but af­ter serv­ing his first stint as a rookie se­na­tor, the fire was rekin­dled and the stage set for a re­turn to boxing. Pac­quiao is hop­ing to re­claim the WBO wel­ter­weight ti­tle for the third time. But jug­gling two jobs, in­clud­ing his new gig as a full-time politi­cian in the Philip­pine Se­nate, has cut into his train­ing camp. Pac­quiao, who turns 38 next month, is go­ing up against the younger WBO champ Jessie Var­gas, who has a height, reach and weight ad­van­tage. Pac­quiao tipped the scales at 144.8 pounds (65.7 kilo­grams) in front of a crowd of about 900 at Fri­day’s weigh-in at the En­core Theater in­side the Wynn ho­tel and casino. Var­gas (27-1, 10 knock­outs) weighed in at 146.5 pounds. “I know I am the chal­lenger go­ing in and I have to fight that way,” Pac­quiao said Fri­day. “It is not enough to do well, I have to take the ti­tle away from him.”

Pac­quiao ar­rived first strip­ping off his black and gold track suit and step­ping on the scale wear­ing grey boxer shorts and trade­mark white socks. “It want to make his­tory. It would mean a lot for me to win this fight,” he said.

Pac­quiao won the WBO ti­tle for the first time in 2010 when he beat Miguel Cotto. He lost it two years later to Ti­mothy Bradley, then got it back by win­ning the re­match with Bradley in 2014. He then lost it to Floyd May­weather last year. Pac­quiao (58-6-2 with 38 KOs) still has a lot left and a seven-month hia­tus can hardly be con­sid­ered a re­tire­ment. But he’s not get­ting any younger and hasn’t had a knock­out vic­tory since 2009. No fighter can go on for­ever. It re­mains to be seen if his part-time train­ing rou­tine and the wear of 66 pro­fes­sional fights fi­nally brings Pac­man to a halt against Var­gas, who is 10 years younger, five inches (13 cen­time­ters) taller and has a four-inch reach ad­van­tage. Pac­quiao said he was re­tir­ing fol­low­ing his April 9 two- knock­down vic­tory over Bradley in their third fight. Pac­quiao looked im­pres­sive in stop­ping Bradley, show­ing that he has re­cov­ered from a shoul­der in­jury which ham­pered him in his fight against May­weather in May 2015. Now it re­mains to be seen what Var­gas’ youth and size ad­van­tage means against the highly skilled and more ex­pe­ri­enced Pac­quiao. Var­gas is mak­ing his first ti­tle de­fence af­ter win­ning the va­cant WBO crown by beat­ing Sadam Ali.

“Manny Pac­quiao has had a great ca­reer,” said Var­gas, who is from Las Ve­gas but says he is fight­ing for Mex­i­can pride. “Every­body that beats him be­comes a leg­end and I look for­ward to be­com­ing a leg­end.” Not many of the fans in­side the En­core Theater on Fri­day were giv­ing Var­gas much of a chance.

“Manny will win be­cause he fa­vors this type of boxing style,” said Alex Pi­carra, of Hen­der­son, Ne­vada. “Var­gas is a good fighter but he is also a brawler and that plays into Manny’s style.” Pi­carra, who works for an air con­di­tion­ing com­pany, said Var­gas is out of his league. “Manny’s still got it,” he said. “I watched Var­gas fight Bradley and Bradley dom­i­nated him. If Bradley can dom­i­nate him, then what is Manny go­ing to do?” Mikael Osorito, of Daly City, Cal­i­for­nia, is an ex­am­ple of the Manny ma­nia of Filipino ex­pats. The 41-yearold air­port worker flew to Las Ve­gas just so he could at­tend the weigh-in. Osorito will fly home Satur­day morn­ing and en­joy the fight on a big screen TV with about 30 friends and fam­ily. “I come to all of Manny’s weigh-ins,” said Osorito, who paid $100 just to watch the weigh-in prior to the May­weather mega fight in 2015. “Manny has more ex­plo­sive power. He is not afraid in the ring. It’s do or die.” — AFP

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