Sometimes a glimmer is enough.
Manny Pacquiao picked up another meaningless alphabet strap that added nothing to his legacy by defeating a Jessie Vargas Saturday night. He’s already done enough to secure his Hall of Fame status. He might have needed the money, but he didn’t need the adulation.
Pacquiao wasn’t the destroyer of old tonight. In fact, for long stretches, he looked merely like a very good welterweight, which is a huge let down for a Manny Pacquiao fight. But there were glimmers of the fighter that he used to be.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KO) had momentary flashes of his old self early, including a knockdown in the 2nd round, then returned to looking human. He wasn’t busy, he wasn’t accurate, and he wasn’t explosive. Vargas (27-2, 10 KO) cracked him with several right hands and more than a few stiff left hooks.
Over the second half of the fight, Pacquiao took control. He wasn’t consistently brilliant, but he was brilliant enough to easily win the last six rounds. He shot his left hand and skittered off to his right enough times to make more than a few smile, while missing the days when he did that dozens of times a round, not three or four. His right hook got dialed in, and though Vargas fought on, Pacquiao always had an answer.
It wasn’t a great fight, and it wasn’t a great performance, but at 37, Manny Pacquiao is still pretty goddamn good.
Top Rank wants you to know that Oscar Valdez can fight. I know that because I saw a metric fuck ton of promoted tweets about him this week. He can fight in reality as well.
Valdez (21-0, 19 KO) beat the brakes off a very game and very brave Hiroshige Osawa (30-4, 19 KO) in a fight that was never really in doubt. It was a fight, but Valdez made it into a showcase., as he battered Osawa en route to a 7th round stoppage.
Valdez has the skill, motor, and punch to be a force at featherweight right now. The kid is the goods. He hurt Osawa at will but never took unreasonable chances. In general, I like a guy who takes unreasonable chances, but Valdez was tight, technical, and really goddamn good.
Nonito Donaire (37-4, 24 KO) is still a goddamn good fighter. But it appears, at age 33, that he can be outworked and outmaneuvered by a younger, fresher fighter. Age catches us all and normally it’s the work rate that kills us. We just cannot muster the stamina.
Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KO) outhustled Donaire to earn the unanimous decision by the scores of 116-112 (2x), and a ridiculous 118-110 from Adelaide Byrd. TQBR scord the fight 115-112, giving Magdaleno a 10-8 round in the 9th when he had Donaire hurt for the last minute of the round.
The bout was nip and tuck, each fighter gave as good as he got. The punch stats were similar, but ultimately, Magdaleno was sharper, faster, and just enough busier to carry the day. Neither man is diminished by their performance. It was a damn fun scrap.
Stephen A. Smith would like to see 35-year-old Zou Shiming fight again, but he wants to see him have more power. Unfortunately for Smith, and the 1 people (there were more than that) who watched ringside, that won’t happen.
Shiming (9-1, 2 KO) earned a wide decision win against Thai veteran and Pacquiao lookalike Prasitsak Phaprom (39-2, 24 KO) by scores of 120-107 (2x) & 119-108. TQBR scored it 119-108.
Shiming did what he always does by circling, throwing in volume, and every great once in a while flashing the tiniest bit of power. It was enough to beat Phaprom, who seemed content to wing one shit at a time, despite his ability to hit and hurt Shiming seemingly at will.
Any discussion of Shiming fighting the best at 112 is ridiculous. A fight against the likes of Chocolatito is a hate crime, not a sporting event.