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Pacquiao ‘Desert Storm’s Vargas: No Mayweather Oasis

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In basically Tim Bradley’ing Jesse Vargas mongoose style to recapture the WBO welterweight title, a resurgent Manny Pacquiao – once again – reignited talks of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.

For me, it rekindled thoughts of an earlier sit down with wise scribe legend Jerry Izenberg, who extolled the virtues of Bill Belichick’s apoplectic genuis.

“Bill’s in his office watching a play where Lawrence Taylor breaks his ankle– the same play for two fucking hours, before his defensive coach Al Groh comes and rescues him,” dimed Izenberg, in an ode to his book “No Medals For Trying”.

“He says, “Bill listen, Taylor breaks his ankle every time, I promise.”

But there would be no relenting from Belichick; for what seemed obvious to him, was lost on Groh. In essence: Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.

The public’s response to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao has been wrath on PPV, and its ripple effects have resonated across the boxing plains. Ironically enough, the only way that they could restore the publics’ trust– and perhaps boxing itself, would be to fight again on free TV, in a Superbowl type of way.

And they would do it in Manila, in honor of Ali vs. Frazier III, and damn near kill themselves in an effort to outdo the past. If you believe this will happen, then you should want to see this again.

Hyperbole aside, Pacquiao, who came out to “Eye of the Tiger”, was reminiscent of the joyous predator from yesteryear as he made his way to the ring at UNLV.

Clad in black trimmed with gold, Pac wore a familiar aura in front of a ringside Floyd Mayweather and an uber-lit, sexy crowd under the spell of Top Rank’s rock star pageantry.

This wasn’t the damaged crusader in a corny Christian t-shirt singing the life out of MGM Grand just before the richest fight in history. This was an iconic, Filipino demigod who reduced Vargas to a mortal footnote.

The latest iteration of a near 38-year-old Filipino icon knocks out Chris Algieri after being let ‘out of his cage’, and denies a trilogy with Bradley by knocking him out in their April 2014 rematch. The fighter we saw on Saturday night was far more powerful and dynamic than the generic, “torn” version unveiled in May 2015, against a Mayweather who fought not to lose.

After dropping Vargas, 27, in round two with a patented straight left, Pac dominated and decisively defeated a proud warrior in his prime and on his turf, to reclaim a belt he feels was unfairly taken from him by Mayweather and a complicit NSAC via heist.

Just a thought, but do you think Mayweather gets that Toradol shot in his arm if he (instead of Pacquiao) needed it? In Las Vegas, where a considerable portion of the hospitality industry comes to life when he fights?

Pacquiao and Mayweather probably owe themselves an opportunity to definitively fight for the championship of each other. Bigger than belts or PPV numbers, is respect for the sport and the greats that came before them.

I don’t believe Sugar Ray Leonard is ok with Thomas Hearns feeling he was cheated out of victory in 1981. No one truly great wants their glory tainted, and the man who came to witness his arch-nemesis (Floyd only showed up to watch Manny- and left) did so with a degree of guilt from this perspective.

Mayweather lost to Pacquiao in court and had to pay him untold millions stemming from a defamation lawsuit over PED allegations. Though Pacquiao agreed to keep the matter private from the public Floyd lives with the truth, and sleeps with one eye open.

So what’s left for Senator Pacquiao? If he’s smart–and he is– he retires, and only comes back if Mayweather does the same. He looked great against a valiant Vargas, but his career can now be characterized by three very distinct chapters.

From 2001 to early 2008, Pacquiao was a technically flawed monster in a red “No Fear” bandana; whereas mid 2008 – 2012 (and the version Floyd avoided) produced as complete a fighting machine the world has ever known.

But an anomalous bomb strike from Juan Manuel Marquez– while on the cusp of absolutely gunning him down, forever changed Pacquiao in December 2012. He became cautious of the counter-punch, while becoming a very dangerous counter puncher himself, one who does not really want to be first, or, punch “with” his opponent.

Fans desirous of the “old” Pacquiao are only likely to see him against an old Mayweather, because that is the only fighter he’d throw complete caution to the wind against.

*** *** ***

Standing next to me during the aborted post fight presser was WBC/WBO super lightweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, who laughed like the rest of us when a cantankerous Bob Arum griped about “this bullshit at nearly 2:30 in the morning on the east coast” before declaring he’s basically going to bed.

A clash of heads near the end of the 12th round opened a gash which required 16 stitches to close, ultimately eliminating Pacquiao from a press conference we all waited around for.

It was like waiting for an oasis in the desert.

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