Jessie Vargas/Photo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.
All one has to do is spend a couple of minutes with Dewey Cooper, and it’s obvious this is a trainer with emotional energy to burn. He speaks in electric, as well as confident, tones.
That was certainly the case when Cooper recently spoke about his fighter, welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, who Nov. 5 will defend his title against Manny Pacquiao
at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on Top Rank pay-per-view, $59.95).
This is only going to be Cooper’s second fight with Las Vegas’ Vargas. In their first, Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) won the vacant title with a ninth-round TKO of then-undefeated Sadam Ali in March in Washington D.C.
Winning that fight is likely a far cry from what Vargas will have to do to beat Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs). That’s not to mention this will by far be the biggest stage on which Vargas has performed. Some guys fall apart in that situation, others handle it well. Cooper believes the latter will be the case for Vargas.
“Psychologically, I pound the message to him every day that this event is not too big for us,” Cooper said. “We belong here. Everyone keeps saying Pacquiao chose Jessie. No, Pacquiao didn’t choose Jessie. Jessie won a world title on March 5 by knocking out an undefeated fighter, sensational fighter, and that is what put Jessie in the position to have a Manny Pacquiao fight.
“In other words, we earned every step of this. And we’re looking forward to a great opportunity.”
Cooper then suggested a changing of the guard is in order.
“We respect Manny, we love Manny,” Cooper said. “But at the end of the day, it’s survival of the fittest, and it’s our time. Life is about transitions and this is definitely a transitional time in boxing and we want to be ahead of that pack.”
Pacquiao is 37 and likely won’t fight much longer.
Cooper is a former cruiserweight who went 19-3-3 with 11 knockouts fighting from 2001-12.