Manny Pacquiao’s farewell from boxing became more of a spring-summer hiatus.
When fans last saw Pacquiao inside a ring, the eight-division world champion announced his retirement following a victory over Timothy Bradley on April 9. Pacquiao said his attention would turn to a new career path as a senator in his native Philippines.
Pacquiao indeed served his constituents, but the lure of a ring return always lingered. Consequently, the comeback drums banged louder and Pacquiao eventually responded. Pacquiao now is eager to combine the roles of senator and fighter.
On Nov. 5, Pacquiao’s brief boxing retirement ends when he challenges World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas.
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“I respect him because he’s a champion, a belt holder,” Pacquiao said of Vargas. “It’s a big challenge for me to get that belt again — to prove that I can still manage serving the people being a boxer.”
Pacquiao, 37, became one of the sport’s top attractions the past decade and frequently exchanged spots with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
However, the fallout from Pacquiao’s bout against Mayweather in May 2015 dented the Pacquiao brand. Pacquiao and Mayweather teased fight fans for five years on a possible match. When they finally met — with the mass exposure directed toward the sport — the bout lacked the spirited exchanges common of many of boxing’s previous highly anticipated showdowns.
Moreover, Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) announced after his unanimous decision loss against Mayweather that he had sustained a shoulder injury while training for the bout, further upsetting the expanded viewership that invested in the fight.
Although Pacquiao’s return bout against Vargas will be on pay-per-view, the match will not be produced by HBO. The premium cable network’s partnership with Pacquiao spans 13 years, but HBO will shift its immediate pay-per-view resources to the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward light-heavyweight title fight on Nov. 19.
As a result, Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank, will distribute the pay-per-view presentation.
“We just want to make sure the fans will be happy on Nov. 5,” Pacquiao said.“There is going to be more action because we know Vargas — the champion — loves the action fights. That’s the type of opponent I like — to create more action in the ring so the fans will not get bored.”
Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) will make the first defense of the title he won after a ninth-round TKO victory over Sadam Ali in March.
“I know that I am the underdog in this situation in this fight but what has changed?” Vargas said. “The media has had me the underdog a dozen times.
“On Nov. 5, I want to prove I’m the best in the division and any other titleholder that does want to challenge me I want them to know that I’m the real deal. And on Nov. 5 you will see that.”
AROUND THE RING
▪ Miami light-heavyweight Yunieski Gonzalez will headline the second local card of the year at the Miami Airport Convention Center on Nov. 11. Gonzalez will face Ghana’s Maxwell Amponsah in the main event of an announced 10-bout show.
A native of Cuba, Gonzalez (17-2, 13 KOs) headlined a show at the same venue on Aug. 6 and stopped Jackson Junior in one round.
For ticket information, call 305-588-0268.
▪ Miami heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz has new promotional backing. Ortiz will now be represented by England-based Matchroom Boxing, which also promotes Anthony Joshua, the reigning International Boxing Federation heavyweight champion.
Two months ago, Ortiz split with former promoter Golden Boy Promotions. Under the Golden Boy banner, Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) ascended in the heavyweight rankings and appeared on three HBO telecasts — all fights ending in knockout victories.
Ortiz is scheduled to face Malik Scott (38-2-1, 13 KOs) on Nov. 12 in Monte Carlo.
Fort Lauderdale resident Antonio Williams signed a promotional deal with New Jersey-based GH3 Promotions. A junior lightweight, Williams, 19, is unbeaten in five professional fights.
Friday (11 p.m., UniMas-Ch. 69): Erik De Leon vs. Aldimar Santos, 10, super featherweights.