The Ultimate Crossroads: Fernando Vargas

24.03.05 - By Chris Ireland - In twelve, three minute rounds, people can lose their youth. The speed, snap, and skill possessed in your prime is squeezed from you like juice from an orange. In thirty-six minutes, it's all gone. On December 2, 2000, the demise of Fernando Vargas may have already begun. In front of a raucous, electric crowd at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, fight fans were ready to see a young twenty-two year old champion take on the game's most electric puncher..

Twelve rounds, for the WBA and IBF junior middleweight championship of the world. Thirty-six minutes. Vargas rose from multiple knockdowns, fighting strictly on heart and courage. After going down twice in the first round, he rallied to knockdown his foe, Felix Trinidad, in the third and get back into the fight. In the last round, Vargas would go down three more times, forcing the referee to stop the fight. Fernando Vargas fought his heart out against Felix Trinidad. It might have ruined him.

Nearly two years later, Vargas would find himself in the mega fight spotlight yet again, this time against Oscar De La Hoya. In this fight, Fernando found his hated rival. "El Feroz" swore to his fans that he would prove who the real Mexican warrior was, and destroy De La Hoya. After eleven grueling, back-and-forth frames, Vargas went down in defeat yet again. After the fight, fans speculated that Vargas didn't have the chin to beat the very elite in boxing. Some said it was Vargas' previous big fight opponent, Felix Trinidad who ruined him. Others believed Vargas' chin was always a weakness, waiting to be tapped.

What followed for Vargas was a long spell severe inactivity and nagging injuries. He would fight only twice after his loss to De La Hoya, winning against mediocre fighters Fitz Vanderpool and Tony Marshall. While Vargas laid in hospital beds and worked out in rehab centers, his elite colleagues were fighting each other in a series of must-see superfights. Winky Wright, an opponent he once defeated, took the junior middleweight crown from Shane Mosley. Oscar De La Hoya challenged Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight title, and Felix Trinidad returned to beat Ricardo Mayorga in a sizzling slugfest. Fight fans wondered what kind of factor Vargas would have been during his division's boom.

There's an old saying people often use, and that is "the good die young." In boxing, the exciting age young. Riddick Bowe was old at thirty. Meldrick Taylor was shot at twenty-three. At twenty-seven, Fernando Vargas might be the next shooting star to fade away before he was supposed to.

In the past year, however, fighters have been able to revitalize their careers after defeat and inactivity. After months of injury woes, Kostya Tszyu annihilated his number one contender, Sharmba Mitchell, in November. Felix Trinidad returned after a short retirement and a loss to Bernard Hopkins to defeat Ricardo Mayorga in October, and Marco Antonio Barrera rebounded from a loss to Manny Pacquiao to beat Erik Morales in November. This past week, Morales once again became a pound-for-pound player when he beat knockout machine Pacquiao. Now it's Vargas who looks to breath new life into his career.

Contact Chris Ireland -

Article posted on 24.03.2005

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