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Manny Pacquiao manager: Jessie Vargas will be the Nov. 5 opponent

Antonio DeMarco, Jessie Vargas
Jessie Vargas lands a right to against Antonio DeMarco during their WBA super-lightweight title bout on Nov. 23, 2014 in Macao.
(Kin Cheung / Associated Press)

Manny Pacquiao’s manager said Wednesday that the record eight-division world champion has decided he’ll fight World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas next.

Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, tweeted this week that he had an Aug. 10 meeting arranged with the 37-year-old Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 knockouts) to discuss his next fight, scheduled for Nov. 5.

Pacquiao originally announced his retirement after a victory over Timothy Bradley on April 9. He then won election to the Philippines’ Senate in May, and announced this summer he would fight again.

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“Retirement doesn’t suit Manny right now,” Michael Koncz said. “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, who’ll accompany Arum from the U.S. to the Philippines, said that discussion won’t be about a potential opponent, but rather whether it’s better from a financial standpoint to place the bout in Las Vegas or Dubai.

“That’s the essence of the meeting,” Koncz said. “Not choosing the opponent. That’s already been done.”

Koncz said Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) became the choice after he and Pacquiao decided they aren’t comfortable with the style of unbeaten two-belt junior-welterweight world champion Terence Crawford.

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Crawford (29-0) dominated Viktor Postol on July 23 in a title-unification bout at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Postol is trained by Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach.

“I don’t like Crawford’s style. I don’t believe it’s a style that suits Manny,” Koncz said.

Asked if that meant Crawford was too fast, or too defensive, Koncz said, “His style! Leave it as his boxing style.”

Vargas, meanwhile, is a Las Vegas product who lost to Bradley — whom Pacquiao has convincingly defeated twice, maybe three times if not for dubious scoring. Vargas won his belt in March with a ninth-round technical knockout of Sadam Ali.

“It’s Manny’s decision,” Koncz said.

As for the site, Koncz said a Pacquiao representative he declined to identify has reported “there is a very good offer in place” to take the bout to Dubai.

“Manny tells me it’s real,” Koncz said. “He was there on a basketball function last year and met with some people.”

Previously, Koncz has been involved in proposals from that region that never resulted in bringing Pacquiao to fight there.

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Las Vegas offers the Thomas and Mack Center, Koncz said.

Arum, who is currently not speaking to reporters about boxing in great detail, said during Crawford’s fight week that Pacquiao understands the days of $25-million guaranteed purses are over if the fight is not a Floyd Mayweather Jr. rematch.

Pacquiao earned an estimated $150 million while losing to Mayweather in May 2015.

“We’re going to try to put together a fight that is the best economic package for Manny,” Koncz said. “Very simple.”

Koncz said he and Pacquiao originally wanted the fight to be against four-division world champion Adrien Broner — “good versus evil,” Koncz quipped — but Broner demanded too great a purse, Koncz said.

“I lost a lot of respect for Broner. We gave him the opportunity to fight Manny and he outpriced himself,” Koncz said. “If you’re as good as some of these young guys think they are, jump at the opportunity to beat this guy. It’s disheartening.”

Is Vargas a light touch?

“In boxing, nothing is easy,” Koncz said. “If you train hard, remain focused, things can go your way.”

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Pacquiao is expected to train for the duration in the Philippines because his “primary concerns and objectives are to fulfill his obligations as a senator. He’ll train there because he’s committed. He’s serious about his votes. He’s not having any absentee votes.”

The November bout keeps Pacquiao in the game and keeps him sharp, with an eye toward staging a 2017 rematch with Mayweather, who won their bout by unanimous decision after Pacquiao aggravated a training-camp shoulder injury in the fourth round.

Mayweather retired in September 2015, but has said the right offer could prompt a comeback. He earned more than $250 million in the Pacquiao bout.

“We’re not going to chase Floyd,” Koncz said. “If Floyd wants to give Manny a rematch, of course we’ll entertain it. We’re not fools.”


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