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LAS VEGAS – Jessie Vargas feels Saturday night will be a momentous occasion for him and the sport of boxing, a landmark event that will end up earning an entry in the fight game’s chronological chart.
“It’s going to be the passing of the torch,” said Vargas on Tuesday as he expressed readiness to ruin the comeback of the great Manny Pacquiao in their scheduled 12-round welterweight war at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Vargas, a huge underdog and ten years younger at 27, believes this will be his time to shine and Pacquiao is on the cusp of closing a sad chapter in his storied 21-year career.
“He’s had a great career but I am here to beat him Saturday night,” said Vargas, who brings to the ring a 27-1 win-loss mark with 10 KOs.
Dewey Cooper, Vargas’ dreadlocked trainer, also pays homage to Pacquiao’s legendary run that stretches back to 2001 but maintains that the Filipino’s out-of-the-box and unconventional style would eventually backfire.
“He’s a Tasmanian Devil-type of fighter. You got to have sharp eyes and ready to go. You beat these with distance and timing. At some point, that will cost him the fight.
“He’s off-beat and is difficult to match his rhythm, very athletic but at some point that will cost him the fight,” said Cooper, who also dabbled in MMA before focusing on boxing.
Since Vargas is also incredibly athletic and a fast learner, Pacquiao would find out that he’s in for a rough night, according to Cooper, adding that his fighter’s seeming lack of power based on the knockout ratio belies his crippling power.
And they envision what’s the ending going to be like with “distance and timing” as factors, hinting of Pacquiao being put to sleep just like what JuanManuel Marquez did in 2012 using a perfectly-timed counter right straight.
That same punch is Vargas’ favorite blow, something he is itching to unload against the soon-to-be-38-year-old fighting lawmaker in four days time.
“We’ve seen things that beat Manny. This guy is not 49-0,” said Cooper, alluding to Pacquiao getting stopped dead in his tracks by a few men most notably Marquez four years ago.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, spoke like a seasoned politician during his 45-minute sit-down conversation with the press, regaling them with anecdotes from his Senate sessions and hardly belittling Vargas.
But Pacquiao alluded to a recent fight that saw a heavy-handed puncher crushing his light-hitting foe with ease in response to a question from a British reporter.
“A heavy-handed fighter, even if his punches don’t land solidly, still hurts his opponent,” said Pacquao, whose meeting with Vargas will be his 27th in US soil.
Pacquiao didn’t categorically say that he will be that heavy-handed guy but the subtle way he delivered it was spot on as if to tell Vargas in the face that he’s not about to ride into the sunset.