By Rich Mancuso

There is no defeat in Jessie Vargas after losing his WBO welterweight title to eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao a few nights back in Las Vegas.  This was another step for Vargas in becoming a better fighter and trading punches with Pacquiao causes that improvement.

Because Manny Pacquiao is a master at what he does, in a bout that Vargas labeled a chess match, there is that boxing lesson of going back to the drawing board and leaning to another win and championship.

So a loss on the record of Jessie Vargas does have a benefit.  This was Manny Pacquiao, and there were no signs that his skills and punches have diminished, Vargas looked better than his fight in March when stopping Sadam Ali for that vacant WBO title.

But this was Manny Pacquiao and based on his last two fights, there was no indication that the 37-year old Senator from the Philippines is going to hang up the gloves and not anytime soon.

Vargas will have other opportunities and Pacquiao, maybe another meeting with Floyd Mayweather Jr. who was at ringside and shot down any report of a comeback and return bout with Pacquiao.

However, what matters most is Jessie Vargas made his statement and did it well.   

“Fighting Manny Pacquiao is like playing a very fast game of chess,” Vargas said. “He was very fast and sharp. You have to be at all times and on your toes. There was a lot of incoming.”

Yes, those incoming punches of Pacquiao that have made boxing history as the eight-division champion and now with his ninth title belt.

Freddie Roach, the Hall of Fame trainer of Pacquiao made reference to his fighter not getting the knockout. If there are any diminished skills with Pacquiao, the lack of knockouts are obvious, and Vargas in this chess match was able to avoid the right and was a winner in his own right by going the distance.

A learning experience for Jessie Vargas, and 12-rounds with Pacquiao making him a better fighter and looking ahead in a very competitive division of fighters in the welterweight division.

“He wasn’t being as offensive as he usually is,” Vargas said. “And I was hoping we could make it a bit of a brawl. I tried but it was a chess match in there.  We were both trying to land big shots.”

Vargas threw those big shots against Ali. The ninth round sent a message and it was time for the big fights among the elite, and in the balance was a meeting with Pacquiao who never came out of retirement after his third fight with Timothy Bradley.

Pacquiao was hungry again, and Vargas was ready.

“Now my objective is to recapture another world title,” Vargas said.  “We’re going to go back to the drawing board and see what we can correct. But at the end of the day, we fought Manny Pacquiao in a chess match. We did well and what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.”

And while Pacquiao was going home to work as the Senator and presenting his new title belt to his people, Vargas was back to work and reviewing the fight that did not go his way.

There are options and his promoters at Top Rank were putting names on the table.  Vargas has options, and assuming he stays at 147, a weight in his comfort zone, there are many.

Danny Garcia has his meeting with Keith Thurman in March. Daniel Jacobs, Earl Spence Jr., and Kell Brook the IBF champion, they are all viable and fights that could be put on the table for the 27-year old Vargas now 27-2 as a professional.

Vargas said, “Fighting Pacquiao only elevated my game and made me better.”  Against Pacquiao he had no option but to be better, and perhaps he was better but not good enough to overcome the quickness of a boxing legend.

The good thing in boxing, there is always a tomorrow and Jessie Vargas has that on his side.


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