Pac­quiao re­claims WBO ti­tle for third time

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

LAS VE­GAS: Filipino south­paw Manny Pac­quiao re­claimed the World Box­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tion wel­ter­weight ti­tle for the third time with a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion vic­tory over for­mer cham­pion Jesse Var­gas in his come­back fight on Satur­day.

The 37-year-old Pac­quiao sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­man­tled the for­mer wel­ter­weight cham­pion de­spite Var­gas’ size and reach ad­van­tage.

He used a short right-handed coun­ter­punch to floor Var­gas in the sec­ond round en route to a one-sided win in front of a crowd of 16,132 at the Thomas & Mack Cen­ter. “I feel happy,” Pac­quiao said. “I’m try­ing ev­ery round to knock him down but also not be care­less.”

Pac­quiao, 59-6 with two drawn and 38 knock­outs, showed he still has a lot left in the tank but he failed to get the knock­out vic­tory that has eluded him for the past seven years.

All three judges scored the bout for Pac­quiao, two of them by 118-109 and the other by 114113. 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 last year to the now-re­tired Floyd May­weather, who had a front row seat for Satur­day’s bout. “Yes I in­vited him to come tonight,” Pac­quiao said of May­weather.

Asked if he wanted a re­match with May­weather, Pac­quiao said, “We will see.” 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 mega fight against May­weather in May 2015.

Pac­quiao took seven months off to con­cen­trate on his job as a newly elected politi­cian in the Philip­pine Se­nate. Af­ter serv­ing his first stint as a rookie se­na­tor, he says the fire was rekin­dled and the stage set for a re­turn to box­ing. On Satur­day, both fight­ers felt each other out as very few punches were thrown in the first round. Pac­quiao was quicker to size up his op­po­nent as the Filipino learned early on that he could counter Var­gas’ left jab with a right to the jaw.

STUM­BLING BACK­WARDS

That’s what hap­pened in the sec­ond round when Pac­quiao con­nected on a right coun­ter­punch that sent Var­gas stum­bling back­wards and onto the can­vas. Pac­quiao said he had to re­spect Var­gas’ punch­ing power.

“I’m very care­ful to go in­side be­cause I knew he would counter me. I felt I could do more but ev­ery round I tried to knock him out,” Pac­quiao said. Var­gas started com­ing on in the mid­dle rounds. His con­fi­dence grew af­ter a strong sixth round which turned out to be one of the few times he was able to trade punches with Pac­quiao. He had a big smile on his face while walk­ing back to his cor­ner af­ter the bell to end the eighth. “Fight­ing Manny Pac­quiao is like play­ing a very fast game of chess,” Var­gas said. “You have to be alert at all times. He was very fast but I was able to get in a few coun­ters.”

Las Ve­gas box­ing fans showed their love for Pac­quiao. Even with a home­town boxer in the ring, the crowd was chant­ing his name and cheer­ing for Pac­quiao to get the knock­out. The two fight­ers traded heavy blows in the eighth round as Var­gas’ face started to show some of the dam­age from Pac­quiao’s po­tent right hand.

— AFP

LAS VE­GAS: Jessie Var­gas (L) and Manny Pac­quiao bat­tle in the third round of their WBO wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship fight at the Thomas & Mack Cen­ter on Satur­day in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada. Pac­quiao won by unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

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