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Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas Pick

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, November 5, 2016
Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Pay-Per-View
Weight Class: Welterweights: 12 Rounds
Titles: WBO Welterweight Title
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Manny Pacquiao, 58-6-2 (38 KOs), General Santos City, Philippines
Vs.
Jessie Vargas, 27-1 (10 KOs), Los Angeles, California

Betting Odds: Manny Pacquiao -900, Jessie Vargas +500

Boxing legend and former eight division champion Manny Pacquiao returns to fight LA's Jessie Vargas on November 5 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Well, that didn't last long. Sure, when a fighter retires, we take it with a grain of salt. But Manny is returning so quickly that his schedule didn't even miss a step. While no one was really crying out for a Pacquiao-Vargas bout, we have one. Upon reflection, it's actually a pretty good fight. Can the old lion add another young name to his extensive resume? Or will youth be served and we'll be reminded that a boxer only has so much to give?

That's really the concern with Manny. Skill-wise and in terms of overall standing, Vargas will never be able to approach the status of Pacquiao. But the surging 27-year old might just be able to turn the trick on a version of Pacquiao that will nearly be 38 with untold mileage on his body after nearly two decades spent at the world championship level. Pac-Man has been able to do things no fighter has been able to do, but for a guy who first participated in world championship circles in 1998, asking him to still be viable in 2016 and beyond might be problematic.

It's only fair to wonder about fighters like Pacquiao who become aimless in their careers, taking single bouts here and there without a clear rhyme or reason. It's like when Sugar Ray Leonard was fishing for something in the early-90's and ended up running into Terry Norris. It's a little different being a fighter on a defined path and being a moonlighting fighter taking bouts without there really being a storyline behind it. That approach always seems to backfire. Guys like Jessie Vargas aren't going to cooperate with any sentimentality. It's a dangerous fight if Pacquiao's motives are strictly financial. At the same time, Manny has been waking up on silk sheets for a lot of years now and always maintained a certain level of hunger. One shouldn't expect that to stop. There is just something a little curious and bemusing about this comeback, like there's something about it that doesn't have a backbone.

In other words, what's the point? Manny doesn't have some driving passion to add Vargas' name to his already-legendary resume. There is no spelled-out course of action. He's not trying to climb back into the number-one spot on the pound-for-pound list. He's just fighting again. Contrast that to Vargas, whose sole purpose for living is to become a great fighter. He's on the track, moving forward to become something better. Adding Pacquiao's name to his ledger increases his profile. There is a pretty sizeable gap between both men's goals and overall levels of ambition.

With that said, Pacquiao still managed to look pretty good against a championship-level fighter in Timothy Bradley in April. He still has incredible speed and command of a fight. In fact, he has a lot of the things that made Pacquiao a legend in this sport. It's just that it's in an older, less reliable package. Again, we're talking about a man who has been fighting at the top levels of the sport since the Bill Clinton administration. He's just not the rock he used to be. You don't want to see him get clipped on the chin at this point and his legs don't always cooperate. He hasn't scored a stoppage win since 2009. Still, he matches up very well even to this day with a current titleholder in Vargas.

Vargas will be making his third appearance at 147 pounds, though when he's fighting a guy who started at junior flyweight, it's hard to take him to task for moving up in weight. He's a tall fighter at 5'11" and has been showing signs of improvement. In his welterweight debut, he was getting beaten soundly by Bradley, before nearly stopping him in the final round. Bradley was hanging on by the last thread and the final bell rang prematurely, adding an element of controversy to the bout. In his next fight, Vargas atoned for the loss by knocking out undefeated Sadam Ali in the ninth round for the WBO belt.

Vargas has only ten knockouts in 27 wins, but has been showing a greater aptitude in hurting guys lately—nearly KO'ing the durable Bradley before stopping the unbeaten Ali. He might not be the safe opponent he appears to be on paper. He does good damage with his left hook to the head. He had scored 11 straight decision wins before stopping Ali, so he's not a great puncher, but you don't want to be caught sleeping on him, either. He was an Olympian and was well-schooled during a long amateur career. He can go to the body and seems to be developing more of a man's strength in recent outings.

At the same time, there have been moments that are disturbing in Vargas' recent body of work. He was perhaps somewhat fortunate to get the nod in a fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev in a 140-pound in 2014. He was getting schooled by Bradley, who was using a peppy style that Pacquiao can use to far-greater affect, before he had that big 12th round. The win over Ali was good, but Ali was always considered a tick under being elite, despite being unbeaten and holding the WBO belt. Still, Vargas was penciled in to next fight Kell Brook, before the Englishman booked the more-lucrative Golovkin bout. All things considered, this might actually be the more-winnable fight for Vargas.

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At this point, it almost makes sense to start betting against Pacquiao whenever he fights. Taking him as a favorite now just offers no real appeal. Boxing history has taught us this is the point of diminished returns on fighters in Pacquiao's position. Fighters like him always end up losing sooner than later, it's always fairly unexpected, and it's always at a nice underdog price for the opponent. When betting against the aging fighter who can't seem to say goodbye who is on some aimless quest, you're going to be right at some point. And when taking nice underdog prices, you can afford to be wrong a few times.

With that said, I really don't like this fight for Vargas. I see speed and movement as being major problems for him. Vargas is a hard worker and never acquiesces to thoughts of defeat, but he lacks the kind of creativity you'd want to see in a potential upset candidate for the Filipino Hall of Famer. He's also pretty straight-up and available and not a massive one-punch knockout guy. I see Pacquiao having his way with Vargas, using his speed, positioning, movement, experience, and overall skill to navigate to a routine win. Also, as fight night approaches and the totals come out, a position on the "under" at the right price could be interesting. Something's telling me this won't go 12.

Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Manny Pacquiao at -900. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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