Eight years ago, Manny Pacquiao claiming a welterweight title may have been front page news. In 2016, however, it's simply business as usual. The eight division titleholder was able to outpoint a talented Jessie Vargas en route to yet another world title for Pac-Man.
Pacquiao got to work early, knocking Vargas down in the 2nd round after an indicesive first round. From that point on, Vargas was able to get himself back into the mix with a strong right hand that caught Manny flush a few times throughout the remaining ten rounds.
However, if Vargas's right landed on occasion, it was Pacquiao's right that dictated the pace as the 38 year old showed no signs of aging as he outfoxed, outfaught, and outmoved the much younger and much less experienced Vargas, who is only 27 years old.
The loss was not necessarily a setback for the young Vargas, who'd only faught two world class caliber fighters prior to Pacquiao (going one for two in his attempts). Vargas should be able to use his experience fighting the legendary Pacquiao, fight he was expected to lose, as he turns his sights on a crop of Welterweigh talent that includes names like Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, Shawn Porter, and Errol Spence.
For Pacquiao, winning a fight that he was expected to win does not necessarily advance his career any further than it has already been projected. As the aging superstar looks to the horizon, not many open doors remain. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. is always on the table, while names like Canelo Alvarez, Terence Crawford, and Vasyl Lomachenko have also been floating around the boxing world.
The boxing world was less than ecstatic about this matchup, and not without reason. Pacquiao was simply too much for a fighter who has potential to be great but is still far from reaching said potential. For many, this fight was a symbol for what could have been. Vargas was supposed to fight fellow titleholder Kell Brook before the Brit signed on to fight Middleweight Gennady Golovkin. For others, Pacquiao remains a bad reminder of the debacle that was his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
So while on paper this fight was not necessarily bad, it could forever stand as a reminder of what could have been for boxing as the sport finishes out a largely disappointing 2016. Even while Pacquiao's skill may never be called into question, even after a 20 year career, Pacquiao's continuing career holds back a sport desperately trying to look forward and bury a troubled past that has tarnished it in recent years.