Manny Pacquiao back with a bang after brief retirement, beats Jessie Vargas via unanimous decision
Manny Pacquiao drops Jessie Vargas in the second round. AP

LESS than a year after retiring, Manny Pacquiao is on top of the world again.

Pacquiao, 37, outclassed and outworked Jessie Vargas for 12 full rounds to snatch the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title on Saturday night (Sunday Manila time) via unanimoua decision at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The three judges scored it 118-109, 118-109, 114-113, all for the Filipino boxing legend, who put on a show for rival Floyd Mayweather who he invited to watch the fight.

[See Is PacFloyd II on the horizon?]

It was the first bout for Pacquiao coming out of seven-month retirement after beatingTim Bradley Jr by similar unanimous decision in what he said then would be his final career fight.

He ran for a Senate seat afterwards and easily won.

Against Vargas, making the first defense of the title he won last March opposite Sadam Ali, Pacquiao hardly looked like one who was away from boxing for half a year.

The pride of General Santos City scored the lone knockdown of the match when he sent Vargas down on the canvas with his lethal left straight.

The second-round knockdown set the tone of the lopsided fight watched by a crowd of 16,132.

The dethroned champion managed to finish the fight up on his feet, but was obviously not in the same class as his challenger, an eight-time world division champion and the first senator to win a world boxing title.

[See Loyal Pacquiao fans make noise in half-filled cinemas to cheer for Pinoy idol]

“Fighting Manny Pacquiao is like playing a very fast game of chess,” Vargas said in the post-fight interview. “You have to be alert at all times, there are a lot of punches coming in. He was very fast and he was very sharp.”

Vargas also had his moment, several times rocking the legendary Pacquiao with his deadly right hand including one in the eighth round.

Pacquiao acknowledged Vargas, 27, was too dangerous to ignore.

“I didn’t want to be careless,” said the Filipino fighting senator, who raised his ring record to 59-6-2 (38 KOs). “I was very careful to go inside because I know he will counter me.”

Vargas ended up nursing a cut just above his right eye, but nonetheless earned the biggest purse of his career worth $2.8 million. His record now stands at 27-2 (10 KOs) after fighting in only his second world title bout.

Pacquiao received a guaranteed purse of $4 million plus a percentage of the fight revenue, although the amount doesn’t approximate the more than $100 million he got when he fought Mayweather Jr last year in the richest boxing match ever.



Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos