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Pacquiao finalizing details for November comeback bout against Vargas

Manny Pacquiao, right, speaks to promoter Bob Arum during a meeting at a hotel in Manila on Aug. 9.
Manny Pacquiao, right, speaks to promoter Bob Arum during a meeting at a hotel in Manila on Aug. 9.
(STR / AFP/Getty Images)

Manny Pacquiao’s choice of Jessie Vargas as a comeback opponent in November isn’t so much about the belt or the purse he’ll gain.

It is mostly about keeping Pacquiao in position to stage a possible rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017.

“If Mayweather wants to return, Manny is ready, assuming he beats Vargas,” Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum told the Times Wednesday from the Philippines, where he met with Pacquiao.

Paquiao, the record eight-division world-champion, confirmed publicly Wednesday that Vargas (27-1, 10 knockouts), the new World Boxing Organization champion, will be his Nov. 5 opponent.

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It won’t be a typical Pacquiao HBO pay-per-view bout at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, though.

Because of a conflict at MGM, the Pacquiao-Vargas fight will land at the city’s Thomas and Mack Center.

And HBO will not televise the bout, Arum said, declining to elaborate the TV plans beyond calling it a coming “blockbuster announcement.”

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One possibility floated by a veteran fight-maker is that ESPN could emerge as a pay-per-view distributor for Pacquiao-Vargas.

Arum said Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) has agreed not to demand a guaranteed purse in excess of $25 million as he’s done during prior bouts on his contract with the promoter.

“We’re not talking about those kind of crazy numbers,” Arum said.

Pacquiao, 37, announced he was retiring after he defeated Timothy Bradley Jr. by unanimous decision on April 9. Pacquiao proceeded to win a Senate seat in the Philippines in May, but then announced in the summer he was coming back to fight.

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In Vargas, he faces a 27-year-old who dropped a unanimous decision to Bradley in June 2015, then won the vacant WBO belt in March with a ninth-round technical knockout of Sadam Ali.

Pacquiao will train under his veteran trainer Freddie Roach in Manila until late October.

“The gym is close to the Senate building,” Arum said.

“[Vargas] is a good, tough fight for Manny. Not a walk-off.”

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