The decibel level and the tone of the bark of the underdog can easily deceive. More easily the greener you are around the edges, for the record. When a guy bares his fangs, the saliva sloshes and he gets guttural, looks rabid, well, you can find yourself getting swayed by the demonstration.
Then you avert your eyes, pivot out of that space and reconsider.
Jessie Vargas is an underdog going in to his Nov 5 violent waltz in Las Vegas with Senator Manny Pacquiao for concrete reasons.
First and foremost, an easy compare and contrast.
Manny Pacquiao has had his way with Tim Bradley in three outings. In my eyes, Pacman went 3-0 against Tim, with the most recent clash resulting in the widest margin of victory on the collective judges’ card yet. And Bradley handled Vargas when they collided, snagging a UD12 in June 2015. However, a Vargas backer will tell you that Vargas had Bradley out on his feet and on the brink of defeat in the waning seconds of round twelve.
Thisclose to stopping out an iron-chinned rumbler.
I chatted with the Cali born Vegas resident Vargas, who holds a 27-1 record, and who learned trade tricks from Roger Mayweather, but is now tutored by Dewey Cooper.
I didn’t bullshit him, I told him that I’m in the camp with the masses. I see Pacman as an “A” fighter, and while I have seen Vargas fight some “A” grade portions of rounds, he hasn’t exhibited that level of worksmanship consistently.
The 27 year old holder of the WBO 147 pound crown accepted that candor with grace and charm. He’s easy to like, giving off an aura of confidence that had me becoming that much more curious to see if on Nov 5, on a Top Rank produced pay per view, his deeds can match his words. To see if his bite can do damage on Pacman to the degree his bark impressed me.
“Tune in November fifth,” said the hitter of Mexican descent who last fought and beat Sadam Ali (via TKO9) in March. “It will be two fighters who come to please the fans. I’m looking forward to a huge victory. On that night, people will know I deserve to be known as the best, or one of the best!”
He didn’t say he’s looking to compete hard and give the fans a good show. No. He said he’s there to win, will win.
There wasn’t an angry edge in his voice but there was an edge.
He knows me and you and others said this fight isn’t an easy sell, that at least a Pacquiao v Adrien Broner fight would have the benefit of an interesting lead in, with Broner’s theatrics propelling copy. Vargas answered that proposed pairing thusly: “I do feel I’m a better option as opponent than Broner, and I do understand what people mean by that, that they enjoy his trash talk, but I have my way of life, and want my daughter and the kids to see me a certain way. I want kids to look up to me, not look at me doing that stupidity. You want that, go to a Hollywood show! I wouldn’t live my life that way. We don’t play in boxing! We will show what boxing is and should be, action! No feinting and walking around eyeing the clock. Do the research! Who’s fighting offensively, and who’s doing it Hollywood style?”
An edge, right?
Vargas said he’s pumped to be so close to a position where he can be on the top of the boxing world. When asked why I should think his chances of pulling that upset of the Senator are better than bitter Twitter teardown types opine, he noted that his right hand is a thing of brutal beauty.
“The Sleeper” is what his crew calls it.
Yeah, the right, hurled with the same sort of angle and arc and explosivity that Juan Manuel Marquez dosed Pacman (58-6-3; age 38 in December) with in December 2012. “Top Rank knew the right was and is vicious. Once I connect with it, then your brain is in shock. For a couple seconds you can’t do much. I’ve had a couple sparring partners down with it already. Can I get Manny with “the Sleeper?” It’s a matter of timing and experience and setting things up. I have to show what I’m about! They will have to give me respect, as that A plus fighter…and then afterwards, all due respect to Manny of course, people will look forward to and enjoy my fights the same way.”
My take: Good bark. Like the decibel level. Like the tone. Sure footed phrasing.
This is a hard lift for Jessie Vargas though.
Manny showed age hasn’t dimmed that explosivity and ability to get angles, hasn’t lessened his athleticism or heavied his legs or desire to do the requisite road work against Bradley.
Vargas says he’s now better than the guy who fought Bradley because his team is aces, and Dewey Cooper is the smoothest of fits as trainer. Will “the Sleeper” get activated as it was against Bradley and then Sadam Ali? I’m dubious, I think Coach Roach will have drilled the Senator to slide right until he’s blue in the face, to avoid a Marquez brown acid flashback. But am I a tick more curious to see if Vargas can put Pacman’s chance at a Mayweather rematch to bed with no dinner than I was prior to speaking to him?
Damn right, dog.
Michael Woods, a Brooklyn resident, hosts the TALKBOX podcast and is publisher of NYFIGHTS.com. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @Woodsy1069.