Manila, Philippines – Top Rank believes it has a solid backup plan for Manny Pacquiao in case Floyd Mayweather doesn’t step up to the plate.
While Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is 100 percent focused on getting Mayweather with the help of major stakeholders for a showdown with Pacquiao in the first half of 2015, he has also placed a safety net in place.
Mexican-American Jessie Vargas, the rugged Las Vegas resident who engaged Antonio DeMarco in a slugfest at the Cotai Arena on the same night Pacquiao mauled Chris Algieri, is ready to fill in the void.
In fact, Vargas was very outspoken during the post-fight press conference as he challenged Pacquiao, assuring the Filipino icon that, unlike the retreating Algieri, he will not take a backward step.
“I’m positive I can take it to the next level and beat Manny Pacquiao and give you a show doing it. I’m not going to run. You’re going to see a war, and you’re going to see me trade with Manny Pacquiao,” said the 25-year-old Vargas, who raised his unbeaten record to 26-0 with nine KOs.
Vargas holds the World Boxing Association junior-welterweight (140 lbs) champion and getting a fight done between him and Pacquiao makes perfect sense since Pacquiao is eyeing to go back down to 140.
“I heard that you want to come down to 140 so let’s make it happen,” said Vargas, who is also willing to go up to 147 and challenge and beat Pacquiao as payback for the losses suffered by his childhood idols Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales
“I’m the WBA champion and I hear you want to come down to 140. Let’s make it happen. If you want this title, okay. I can go up and take your title. I still have a grudge, to be honest, ever since I was a kid and Pacquiao beat Morales and Barrera.”
Vargas also believes him and Pacquiao have a great storyline, adding that he has beaten four of Freddie Roach’s fighters.
Arum seems to be amenable to the idea of pitting the 5-9 Vargas against his top draw.
“Vargas has become a fan-friendly fighter,” Arum told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He has shown the ability to take a punch and to throw a punch. He deserves to be on the short list for a fight with Manny.”
But Arum insists what’s keeping him pre-occupied these days is Mayweather.