LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao, now a senator in the Philippines, made a triumphant return to boxing Saturday, easily outclassing WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas in a 12-round title bout at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.
Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) won by scores of 114-113 and 118-109 twice, retaking a belt he used to own.
The 27-year old Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs), a decade younger than his opponent, won the vacant WBO title in April when he knocked out Sadam Ali in Washington.
With Floyd Mayweather sitting at Ringside, Pacquiao put on the type of show he was unable to put on against Mayweather in 2015. A raucous pro Pacquiao crowd of 16,132 at The Thomas and Mack Center chanted “Man-ny, Man-ny” almost every round.
Here is how the rounds unfolded:
Boxers are in the center of the ring. Crowd chanting for Manny. Feinting but few punches thrown. Vargas jabbing with that stiff jab. Swings and misses by both fighters. Right by Vargas then more jabbing. Manny ties up Vargas. There was more action in the last 10 seconds than most of the rest of the round. Vargas more active and I give him the round.
Manny using his great footwork, but Vargas presses the action. Both fighters cautious. Manny misses with a left. So much for early action. Vargas misses with a right, and Manny counters with a left. Straight left hand by Pacquiao drops Vargas. A 10-8 round for Pacquiao. Wow, a lightning quick punch right on the button.
Vargas presses the action but Manny returns a flurry. The action is staying in the center of the ring for the most part. Manny attacks again, and he feels as if he has this under control. Crowd chanting Man-ny! Man-ny! Vargas not getting much of Manny. Wild swing and his glove touches the canvas. They tie each other up as the bell ring. Another round for Manny. Manny up 2-1.
Vargas struggling to touch Pacquiao, whose quickness seems to be back, if it ever left. Left by Manny connects, and Vargas misses with a right, then holds Pac’s neck. Vargas tags Manny on the chin with a stiff jab. He needs to use the jab more. Manny’s left returns a right by Vargas. Another tie-up. Short left by Manny followed by a right by Vargas as the bell ends round 4. Very close round but have to give it to Vargas. Tied 2-2.
Several swings and misses. Hard left by Pac connects to Vargas’ midsection. Vargas’ right eye might be starting to close. Vargas goes back to the jab. Vargas comes in with a right hand then they clinch in the corner. Vargas misses with a right, and Manny returns a left that connects. Vargas ends the round with three or four lunges and misses. Good Pacquiao round. 3-2 Pacquiao with a 10-8 round.
More caution to start the round, as Vargas uses the jab to keep Pac away. Left by Pac misses and Vargas ties him up. Hard right by Vargas. Vicious exchange right in front of us that Vargas might have gotten the better of. Pacquiao lunges with a left that barely misses as the bell rings. Good round for Vargas there. 3-3.
Pacquiao using the right hand early in the seventh, which might have won him the round. Vargas seemed unable to counter. Vargas comes forward and throws a hard right that glances off. Pac is jabbing to keep Vargas away. Wild Vargas right goes over Pac’s head. I give the round to Pacquiao and the lead 4-3.
Manny throws some wicked combinations that all connect as Vargas is cut, and Manny smells the blood. Vargas bleeding heavily over his right eye. Straight right by Manny connects and snaps Vargas’ head back. Pac dominates the round. Pacquiao easily wins the round. Leads 5-3.
Pac throwing hard lefts early as Vargas looks tired. Pac is relentless, comes in with a straight left, followed by another left. Vargas right hand misses as Pac ducks. Pac blocks a right hand shot. Pac’s superior footwork paying off, as Vargas grabs a lot of air with his last two rights. Another good round for Pacquiao and a 6-3 lead.
Hard lefts by Pac connect as Vargas has no answers. The senator looks in great shape. Left and right, then another left by Manny has Vargas gasping for air. Vargas finally connects with a right hand but too little, too late, Pac stalks Vargas against the ropes, and looks mighty confident with two rounds to go. Pacquiao wins the round, leads 7-3.
Pac charges and throws two hard lefts. Vargas comes back and connects with a right to the forehead of Pacquiao. Vargas hanging tough, but probably needs a knockout to win this. Pacquiao making it look easy. Hard right by Vargas glances off Pacquiao, then Pacquiao comes back with a right that knocks Vargas down, his glove touches the canvas, but referee Kenny Bayless. rules it a slip. He’s a great ref, but wrong there. Pacquiao’s round; we go to the 12th.
Manny nails Vargas with a left on the chin; Vargas is game, but about to lose his belt. Combination by Vargas lands, but Manny being cautious. Does not want to get hit with a big punch. Vargas is trying though. Swings and misses by Vargas, and Manny counters with a left. Vargas touches the canvas and Bayless rules it a slip again. It’s over. Should be an easy Pacquiao victory. He outclassed Vargas all night.