If you’re a dude whose name is “Jessie” this weekend — spelled just like that — you’ve got about a 50 percent chance of being in a potentially winnable fistfight that you probably won’t win. Presumably the Disney show starlet, as a lady-person, is at no such risk.
- Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas, Saturday, Top Rank Pay-Per-View, Las Vegas. Pacquiao’s short-lived retirement ends officially against rising welterweight Vargas, who’s coming off the best win of his life and, before that, a showing that nearly turned into the best win of his life. Follow the timeline here. By definitively beating undefeated Sadam Ali in his most recent bout, Vargas ended his reputation as a guy who is always on the fine line between victory and defeat. For a long time in his career, Vargas got questionable decisions. Then, just before beating Ali, he nearly knocked out Timothy Bradley in the 12th round of a bout that was marred by the referee erroneously thinking the fight had reached its final bell. Vargas did look excellent against Ali. But Pacquiao is a whole different kettle of fish. Pacquiao DID beat Bradley in his most recent fight, and looked anything like he was over the hill at age 37. Vargas has a shot based on current form and size and aggression (he’s saying he’ll press the action), but Pacquiao has beaten taller, aggressive fighters before. Prediction: Pacquiao won’t win by knockout because he hasn’t KO’d anyone in years, but don’t be surprised to see Vargas on the canvas a couple times en route to a clear decision victory amid good action.
- Pacquiao vs Vargas undercard. Junior featherweight Nonito Donaire is taking on the toughest challenge on the undercard, going against Jessie Magdaleno, hyped as a great prospect early but he faded from the scene a bit due to some personal/professional struggles and has yet to face anyone of consequence. Donaire has been a bit resurgent but also is getting up there in the years, and if Magdaleno is focused and more than just hype, we could get a doozy. Super-fun and talented featherweight Oscar Valdez is facing Hiroshige Osawa, whom no one sees as a challenge. Lastly, flyweight Zou Shiming rematches Prasitsak Phaprom for no good reason other than this card is an attempt to make sure every major Asian nation is represented, I guess. HBO turned down this show, for reasons that are slightly mystifying (the network says it’s too close to its big Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward PPV, but ‘cmon). Overall, the main event is solid and there are some marketable guys on the undercard, as well as one fight that could be nice.
- Taras Shelestyuk vs Jimmy Herrera, Friday, Showtime, Corona Calif. Ukraine’s 2012 Olympics bronze medalist is taking a huge step up here on ShoBox, the show that’s meant to put prospects to the test. Back in 2014, Jimmy (or is it Jaime?) Herrera made Mike Jones retire two ways: one on the official results of their bout, then when he retired from the ring for good after that. He’s beaten some other unbeaten types, too. If the Freddie Roach-trained Shelestyuk is for real, we’ll get a sense of it from this opponent.