By Edward Chaykovsky
The return of Manny Pacquiao has not been met with applause by fans and critics.
Pacquiao confirmed on Tuesday that he will come out of retirement to fight WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The former eight division world champion and Philippines senator issued a statement confirming the bout, saying he would conduct his entire training camp in his home country so he can also attend to his legislative work, as he promised during the election campaign.
Pacquiao's adviser, Michael Koncz, said there will be a promotional tour from Sept. 8-10 in Los Angeles, after which Pacquiao and his team will go home so he can attend to his Senate duties.
Before his last fight in April, he said that he would retire. During the campaign for the May 9 election, he assured Filipino voters that he would focus on legislative work if elected to the Senate. The 37-year-old Pacquiao said he was excited to return to the ring and said he has to fight again to earn a living.
Pacquiao met for two hours with Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank Boxing, on Tuesday night in Manila and they will meet again soon for the contract signing, Koncz said.
Vargas (27-1, 10KOs) is not the opponent that most fans wanted Pacquiao to fight. They wanted him to face WBC/WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford (29-0, 20KOs), who Koncz and Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach rejected for the fall.
Arum shot back at critics who believe Pacquiao is taking an easy fight for a quick payday, while admitting the future Hall of Famer is unlikely to fight beyond 2017.
“This is a tough fight for Manny. Manny doesn’t want any easy fights,” Arum was quoted as saying by Rappler. “Hopefully if [Pacquiao] beats Vargas, there’s be some other big fights available next year. And I’m pretty sure that enough will be enough, and by 2017 we'll be seeing the end of Manny’s brilliant boxing career."