Pacquiao easily outpoints Vargas to regain world title
Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) scored a unanimous decision over defending champion Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs) to regain the WBO welterweight title on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, who returned to boxing after taking seven months off to focus on his job as a newly elected politician in the Philippine Senate, showed no signs of ring rust as he dropped and dominated Vargas on the way to winning by scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 114-113.
After a mostly cautious opening round, Pacquiao floored Vargas with a straight left hand in the second. Although the American did not seem too badly hurt and fought his way back into the fight.
The Filipino fighter continued his fast assaults in the following rounds, while using good movement to avoid Vargas' punches.
Vargas had some success in the middle rounds, landing a hard right hand at the end of the sixth, but he was beaten to the punch regularly.
The two traded shots in the 8th and Vargas suffered a cut above his right eye.
Pacquiao looked to finish the fight in the later rounds, connecting with numerous heavy blows, including a powerful right in the final seconds of the 12th, but Vargas was tough and took the shots well.
"I feel happy because I'm trying every round to knock him down. It's why I'm always aggressive but not careless," said Pacquiao, who had won the WBO title on two previous occasions.
"I'm very careful to go inside because I know he's going to counter me. I feel I can do more but my aim every round is to knock him out."
Floyd Mayweather, who defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision in May 2015 in a bout dubbed "The Fight of the Century", was watching at ringside.
Mayweather retired following his points win over Andre Berto in September 2015, equalling heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano's unbeaten 49-0 record. But his presence at ringside has ignited speculation of Mayweather-Pacquiao 2.
Also on the card, Unbeaten American Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs) dethroned WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24 KOs) by unanimous decision.
In a good two-way action fight, Magdaleno was awarded scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110.
WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KOs) stopped Japanese challenger Hiroshige Osawa (30-4-4, 19 KOs).
The Mexican dropped Osawa in the 4th and piled on the punches until he bout was waved off in the 7th.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming (9-1, 2 KOs) defeated Prasitak Phaprom (39-2-2, 24 KOs) by a one-sided unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO flyweight title.
Shiming knocked down Phaprom in the second and dominated the action throughout.
The judges scored the fight 120-107, 120-107 and 119-108 for the fighter from China.
This was the second time that Shiming had beaten Phaprom, as he won a one-sided points decision in 2014.