Pacquiao mum on ring return against Jessie Vargas

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine senator and 8-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao was non-committal on the topic about his reported ring return against WBO welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas in November while talking to the media on Friday, August 5, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Pacquiao, a player and coach in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), participated in the Greats vs Stalwarts exhibition game for the league’s 2016 All-Star Weekend. 

Speaking inside his team’s locker room after the Stalwarts’ 99-94 victory, the 37-year-old politician said he’s still not allowed to answer questions pertaining to boxing and insists he’s currently being occupied by his duties in the senate.

Yan yung mga tanong na hindi ko pa masasagot ngayon. Hindi ko pa nakausap si Bob Arum (his promoter). Parang pupunta yata sila [dito] next week, so duon pa kami mag i-istart nang kung ano paguusapan. Ngayon, busy ako sa trabaho sa opicina,” he said.

(Those are the questions I can’t answer yet. I haven’t talked to Bob Arum. I think they’re going here next week, so that’s when we’ll start talking. For now, I’m busy at the office.)

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz confirmed that Pacquiao is coming out of retirement to take on Vargas (27-1,10KOs) on November 5. The southpaw from General Santos City previously said he was calling it a career after a second straight victory against Timothy Bradley Jr last April.

“Retirement doesn’t suit Manny right now,” Koncz was quoted as saying. “Boxing is in his blood. When he trains, it’s like a pressure-release valve. You can see a dramatic difference in his mood. He’s happy. It’s amazing what training and fighting does for him.”

Koncz also said that Arum, the chief of Top Rank, is looking at holding the fight either in Las Vegas or Dubai. The decision will be up to Pacquiao, who will meet both men in the Philippines next week.

Arum denied to ESPN that a deal had been reached.

"Michael can say whatever he wants but I haven't talked to Manny about any of this. Michael feels strongly about the opponent, but that's Michael, not Manny. And Manny has the final say," said Arum. The other favorite to face Pacquiao is WBO junior welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford.

Pacquiao was also asked about the possibility of the fight taking place in Las Vegas or Dubai on Friday, but said he also could not answer that question.

Hindi ko masagot yung about boxing, kasi sa mind ko ngayon wala pa ang boxing,” said Pacquiao. “Pagdating palang ni Bob Arum tsaka namin pagusapan yung about boxing, kung ano yung dapat pagusapan at ano yung development kung may fight o wala. Sa ngayon, busy tayo sa office, sa work.” 

(I can’t answer questions about boxing, because it’s still not on my mind. When Bob Arum gets here, that’s when we’ll talk about boxing, about what we need to talk about, and see if there’s development on a fight. For now, I’m busy working at the office.)

Vargas, who became a two-division world champion last March, told the Las Vegas-Review Journal that his manager Cameron Dunkin is working on a contract for a fight against Pacquiao on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

“Everything is pointing in the right direction that we will have a fight confirmed between Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas,” Vargas said.

Pacquiao scored 9 points - all in the first half - of the exhibition game which his team won, going 4-of-19 from the field.

Okay naman. Naka-tsamba (It was okay, I got lucky),” he laughed about his showing after the contest. –