Floyd Mayweather watched from ringside as Manny Pacquiao secured victory on his return to the sport, defeating Jessie Vargas via a unanimous decision to reclaim the WBO world welterweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Pacquiao, who had announced his retirement after beating Timothy Bradley in April, showed little ring rust on his comeback following a seven-month hiatus, winning on all three scorecards, 114-113, 118-109 and 118-109.
Mayweather defeated Pacquiao in May 2015 in a bout dubbed “The Fight of the Century”, but decided to call time on his career four months later after equalling heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano’s unbeaten 49-0 record by beating Andre Berto.
His presence at ringside has sparked rumours of a rematch between the pair, and Pacquiao (59-6-2 KO38) refused to rule out another bout with the unbeaten American.
When asked if he wanted a rematch with Mayweather, the 37-year-old said: “We will see.”
Pacquiao, who took seven months off to focus on his job as a newly elected politician in the Philippine Senate, pressed from the opening bell and sent Vargas (27-2 KO10) to the canvas in the second after landing with a powerful left.
Vargas continued to struggle with Pacquiao’s superior speed and power, but was more than willing to trade with the eight-weight world champion and enjoyed some success in the middle rounds.
The 27-year-old American also landed with a big right hand in the eighth before suffering a cut above his right eye following an accidental clash of heads.
Pacquiao, who had won the WBO strap on two previous occasions, remained composed however, and looked to finish the fight in the closing rounds, landing with a powerful right in the final seconds of the 12th that sent Vargas back on his heels.
Despite failing to secure his first knockout victory in seven years, Pacquiao was pleased with his night’s work.
“I feel happy because I’m trying every round to knock him down. It’s why I’m always aggressive but not careless,” Pacquiao said. “I’m very careful to go inside because I know he’s going to counter me. I feel I can do more but my aim every round is to knock him out.”