Filipino star Manny Pacquiao reclaimed the World Boxing Organization welterweight title for the third time with a unanimous decision victory over former champion Jesse Vargas in his comeback fight on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The 37-year-old Pacquiao, who announced his retirement seven months ago after beating Timothy Bradley, knocked Vargas down in the second round en route to a decisive victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Pacquiao, 59-6 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, showed he still has a lot left in the tank but failed to get the knockout victory that has eluded him for the past seven years.
All three judges scored the bout for Pacquiao, two of them by 118-109 and the other by 114-113.
Pacquiao won the WBO title for the first time in 2010 when he beat Miguel Cotto. He lost it two years later to Bradley, then got it back by winning the rematch with Bradley in 2014. He then lost it last year to the now-retired Floyd Mayweather, who had a front row seat for Saturday’s bout.
Pacquiao took time off to concentrate on his job as a newly elected politician in the Philippine Senate. After serving his first stint as a rookie senator, he says the fire was rekindled and the stage set for a return to boxing.
Pacquiao said he was retiring following his April 9 two-knockdown victory over Bradley in their third fight.
Pacquiao looked impressive in stopping Bradley, showing that he has recovered from a shoulder injury which hampered him in his fight against Mayweather in May 2015.
Both fighters felt each other out as very few punches were thrown in the first round.
Pacquiao was the quicker of the two to size up the opponent as the Filipino southpaw learned early on that he could counter Vargas’ left jab with a right to the face.
That’s what happened in the second round when Pacquiao connected on a counterpunch that sent Vargas stumbling backwards and onto the canvas.