Manny Pacquiao enjoyed a routine return from retirement on Saturday night, as he clinched the WBO welterweight title via unanimous decision against Jessie Vargas.
The Filipino fighting icon proved to have far too much for his opponent at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, knocking him down in the second round with a sharp counterpunch before meticulously picking Vargas apart in the final stages of the fight. The American’s size and reach advantage ultimately counted for little.
For a fighter who is nearly 38, this was another classy showing from Pacquiao. Here’s a look at the punching figures in full behind his 59th career win and how the judges viewed this one.
Pacquiao Dominates on Return to the Ring
Via the Throwdown Scoring app, here are the complete punching stats for the fight, in which Pacquiao threw less but landed more than Vargas:
ESPN Boxing relayed the scorecards, with two of the three judges having the Filipino down as an easy victor:
The early stages of this one were always going to be fascinating, and it was clear that Vargas was tentative about throwing too many shots and risk eating counters. The Filipino exposed him in the second round, as Pacquiao’s short right-hand counter shook the American and dropped him to the mat.
However, the former champion managed to recapture a foothold in the bout during the middle rounds, when he sought to use his physical advantage. Indeed, Vargas troubled Pacquiao when the duo traded in the sixth round.
He couldn’t maintain that momentum, though, and in the second half of the fight, the senator from the Philippines started to turn the screw. These numbers from CompuBox illustrate the chasm in class between the two fighters late on:
The strong finish meant that there was never any danger of Pacquiao losing this decision, despite one of the scorecards being narrowly in favour of the eight-weight world champion.
While all eyes were on the action, there was a distinguished guest at ringside to take this one in—Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Yes I invited him to come tonight,” said Pacquiao of Mayweather, per Gareth A. Davies of the Daily Telegraph. As Dan Rafael of ESPN.com noted, the man known as Money, who is now retired from the sport, was mildly impressed with what he had witnessed from his rival:
The pair famously fought in a lucrative showdown in May 2015, with Mayweather taking a comfortable win on points. When asked about a possible rematch, Pacquiao gave little away. “We will see,” he said, per Davies.
Meanwhile, Vargas offered insight into what it’s like to take on a boxer as accomplished as Pacquiao, per BoxNation:
After he had briefly retired following his win over Timothy Bradley earlier this year, it was wonderful to see the Filipino back in the ring and in fine shape. Vargas may not be the most fearsome foe Pacquiao has fought, but something special still stirs in Pac-Man in the twilight of his career.
And months on from reflecting on the end of one of the great boxing careers, we’re now looking toward the future once again for Pacquiao. Mayweather’s appearance here will add more fuel to talk of a potential rematch.
While the first bout underwhelmed, the sequel would still trigger a remarkable amount of buzz. Pacquiao would also be keen to avenge arguably the biggest loss of his decorated career.