By Edward Chaykovsky
According to Eric Pineda, business manager for eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), a decision has been made to fight WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) in the fall.
Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, has set aside November 5th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Vargas captured the vacant WBO championship earlier this year after knocking out unbeaten Olympian Sadam Ali.
The selection of Vargas comes at no surprise after Pacquiao's head trainer, Freddie Roach, publicly rejected the idea of facing WBO/WBC 140-pound champion Terence Crawford in the fall - but says he is willing to approve the selection of Crawford for a 2017 pay-per-view date.
"Pacquiao has made his decision - it's Vargas," Pineda told popular Filipino site Spin.ph.
Pacquiao announced his retirement in April after winning a twelve round unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley. He was motivated to pursue a full-time career in politics back home in the Philippines. In May, he secured a senatorial seat. It didn't take long before Pacquiao and his handlers were hinting at the possibility of a return fight.
Arum arrives in the Philippines on August 9th with the intention of working out a deal for Pacquiao's return. An agreement for the Vargas fight has not been finalized. The only matter determined is his selection as the opponent of choice.
Pacquiao's first choice was former four division champion Adrien Broner. Arum and adviser/manager Al Haymon were unable to meet Broner's asking price.
Pacquiao previously held the WBO world title and lost that belt to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May. Mayweather was stripped after non-payment of the sanctioning fee. Bradley would then become champion, but vacated the title to move forward with the Pacquiao trilogy fight.