By Ryan Burton
Las Vegas – Manny Pacquiao put on a dazzling display in his return to the ring after a brief retirement, scoring a unanimous decision over champion Jessie Vargas to claim the WBO welterweight title here on Saturday.
Despite giving away 10 years to his opponent, the 37-year-old Pacquiao fought with more intensity and energy, and dominated the American in the final rounds to close out an emphatic victory.
The judges scored the bout 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109 in favour of Pacquiao, the only fighter to hold titles in eight divisions, with the Filipino improving to 59-6-2, while Vargas fell to 27-2.
It was a master class taught by the first sitting Senator to win a world boxing championship as Pacquiao temporarily left the ring to win election in the Philippines and serve in office before making a return to what he called his “passion”.
Pacquiao, whose last previous bout was a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley in April, showed quickly that he had not lost his skills, knocking Vargas down in the second round with a straight left to the champion's face.
Among the spectators at the Thomas & Mack Center were the currently retired Floyd Mayweather and light-welterweight champion Terence Crawford. Pacquiao lost the richest bout ever to Mayweather last May.