At 37, Is Manny Pacquiao the number one welterweight?
By Hector Franco
November 12, 2016
Last Saturday, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) made his return to the ring and defeated WBO welterweight champion, Jessie Vargas (27-2, 10 KOs). This was Pacquiao’s second fight in 2016 after a brief retirement that lasted all but five months. Looking at the division where Pacquiao fights it would seem that even with him being at 65 to 70 percent of his former self he is still the best the division has to offer.
It’s clear that Pacquiao has the best resume in the welterweight division. But at 37 years of age, he has a better track record in his last two fights than other top welterweights who are ten years younger than him. Looking at the top ten in the division it’s hard to make an argument against Pacquiao.
Starting with IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) it’s unclear how he will perform after moving back down to welterweight from middleweight. WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) only fought once in 2016 against Shawn Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs). The victory was the best of Thurman’s career as he faced a former welterweight champion in a fight of the year contender. Before facing Porter, Thurman faced Luis Collazo in July 2015. It’s safe to say that if Thurman had faced Jessie Vargas in a unification fight it would have been seen as the second best victory of his career. A win over Timothy Bradley for Thurman would be even bigger than his win over Shawn Porter.
The WBC welterweight champion, Danny Garcia has had somewhat of a quiet year. After winning the vacant WBC welterweight title from Robert Guerrero he decided to stay inactive for over 10 months. Guerrero after the fight with Garcia would go on to lose to journeyman David Peralta, a literal cab driver, showing that he is now well past his prime. Garcia will face Samuel Vargas next in a non-title fight in Philadelphia. Afterward, the plan is to face Keith Thurman in a unification fight.
Looking at the top ten at welterweight for ESPN and Ring Magazine, Pacquiao is the only fighter with wins over two top ten fighters this year. It’s hard to imagine that a 37-year old fighter who has reached the highest pinnacles of the sport has more desire to compete than fighters in their prime. Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter seem content to only fight once a year. The same goes for Timothy Bradley as he has been out of the spotlight since losing to Pacquiao in April.
It’s time for the welterweights of this era to stand up and push out the last era of welterweights. Either they are only concerned with putting money in their pockets or are simply not good enough. As of now the old man of the division has proven to be ahead of the pack. Make no mistake Pacquiao is past his prime and is ripe for the taking. Today’s welterweights sat back this year and let him reclaim the top spot. Until proven otherwise either in the ring or with a fighter taking on top competition back to back, Pacquiao is the number one welterweight in the world.
(Featured Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)