One is first-named Jessie and the other is called Ricky.
Let’s start with Jessie. He’s 27 years old, was born in Los Angeles, California, stands 5-foot-10 and will weigh 147 lbs. when he climbs the ring next weekend against Sen. Pacquiao.
Jessie is 10 years younger and four inches taller than Manny. He has fought 28 times and won 27 — the only loss in his career was, coincidentally, against the man Pacquiao last defeated: Timothy Bradley. In Jessie’s loss to Bradley in June of last year, the duo danced all the way to the 12th round before Bradley won by UD. Right after that loss, Jessie fought Sadam Ali and won a 9th round TKO last March. That victory handed him the WBO welterweight crown.
With his fight against Pacquiao next weekend, it’s not surprising that among all of MP’s recent fights, this one has garnered the least hype. After promising to quit boxing, Manny — like most politicians do — reversed course and reneged on his promise.
“Every day I was able to run in the morning and then train after the Senate session,” said Pacquiao. “The gym is very close to the Senate.”
Given Pacquiao’s impressive showing against Bradley in their fight last April, many are expecting a straightforward win for our Pinoy hero.
“I don’t want to underestimate him,” said Pacquiao. “People say it is going to be an easy fight for me. But it is my experience that whenever I underestimate my opponent it is trouble for me.”
This is the first Vargas: Jessie. Obviously, we want him to lose.
The second Vargas? He’s Ricky. He, too, is a fighter but he’s waged his battles in the corporate world as a top executive of Manny V. Pangilinan’s group of companies that include First Pacific and PLDT. So when MVP asked Mr. Vargas to spearhead the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP), he said yes.
One of the privileges of being the head of a National Sports Association (NSA) like ABAP is that you can vie for the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) presidency.
Ricky has decided to challenge Jose “Peping” Cojuangco for the top position of the POC. I’ve written in this piece before and I’ll say it again: It’s time for Peping to go. I concur with the stand of my sports editor Mike Limpag.
Peping Cojuangco has had three terms as POC head and he wants a fourth? What accomplishments — especially in the Olympics — can he show?
So, like Pacquiao-Vargas, we have the Cojuangco-Vargas fight.
The only problem? Vargas — the good one, the Pinoy — has been disqualified from challenging Peping. Former IOC representative Frank Elizalde headed the three-man election committee that decided against Vargas. The reason: he was unable to attend the prerequisite number of POC meetings. (What makes this even more “political” is that Peping’s daughter, Mikee Jaworski, is an IOC member.)
Ricky Vargas is crying foul. The term “active participation” (the basis) is a debatable term that can mean sending representatives in behalf of ABAP to attend the meetings.
PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez said this in an interview: “I don’t question the wisdom of the Comelec of the POC, but for me, in the spirit of sportsmanship, it could’ve been a source of understanding, unity, discipline, value and integrity. Those people should have been allowed (to run) especially if the rule says active membership.”
Ever the gentleman and polite sportsman, Ramirez is correct. What happens next is this: Vargas has vowed to challenge the ruling. He has until Nov. 2 to submit his protest and the ruling can go all the way to the POC membership for decision-making.
If my counting is correct, there are 42 NSAs that will vote for the POC leadership. I’m not even sure that Vargas has the numbers to supplant Cojuangco. As sad as it it, politics is embedded with sports and, in elections like these, political weaponry is at work. Ricky Vargas said: “Give election a chance. Give sports a chance. Give democracy a chance.”