Fernando Vargas: In the fight of his life!

13.07.06 - By Eddie Velez: On Saturday night, July 15, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Fernando Vargas (26-3, 22 KO's) will be seeking revenge when he takes on "Sugar" Shane Mosley (42-4, 36 KO's) in a fight that's likely to be action packed from start to finish. For all his early susccess, Vargas will be fighting for his boxing legacy, as he's suffered three knockout losses in the past six years that has detracted from the early portion of his career.. In addition, Vargas has had only six fights in the past 4 years, having missed all of 2004 with a back injury. Thus, at the young age of 28, Vargas has reached a critical place in his career, where he is seemingly reached a fork in the road in his career. Strangely enough, while many fighters at this age are getting into their prime, Vargas is only a few fights away from retirement, in my view.

To understand how he got to this point, one must look back at Vargas' quick rise and subsequent fall from the top. Vargas had a decorated amateur career and was a 1996 Olympian for the U.S. He turned pro at the early age of 19, and immediately shot up through the ranks, mowing down his overmatched opponents. Vargas defeated “Yori Boy” Campas, in only Vargas' 15th fight, stopping him in the 8th round and winning the IBF Light Middleweight Title.

However, Vargas' career came to a sudden stop, when he knocked out by, Felix Trinidad, in December 2000. In retrospect, Vargas probably should have not taken on Felix Trinidad at such an early stage in Vargas' career, as he had only fought 20 fights and needed more experience before facing someone as tough as Trinidad. Nonetheless, this fight would change Fernando’s career, since he didn't appear to react to hard punches as well following the fight. All the same, the Trinidad fight will go down as one of the best ever in the Junior Middleweight Division History, for Vargas gave his all, trading shot ofr shot with Trinidad until the bitter end in the 12th round. Vargas fought with his heart and soul that night and ended up losing that war, sadly. Vargas received a vicious beating from Trinidad, and eventually was knocked out, after suffering 5 knockdowns. To his credit, though, Vargas displayed a champion’s heart time-and-time again, landing beautiful shots against Trinidad, shots that would have easily have knocked out a lesser fighter.

If anyone watched Fernando Vargas' fights before and after the Trinidad fight, it is like watching two different fighters. However, following the loss to Trinidad, Vargas fought twice in 2001, before facing Oscar De La Hoya in 2002. Clearly, Vargas needed more tuneup fights before facing De La Hoya, as two fights in between his loss to Trinidad, a severe beating, was not nearly enough time to properly recover from such a savage bout. Nevertheless, Vargas was soundly beaten by De La Hoya, being stopped in the 11th round, in a fight where Vargas absorbed a lot of punishing head shots from De La Hoya. Thus, factor in Fernando Vargas' knockout loss to De La Hoya, his back and weight problems, a problem that was potentially career-threatening for Vargas, and you have a fighter whose days are numbered. So, the question is, can Fernando turn things around and end his story with a happy ending? That’s the million dollar question.

In February 2006, after registering 4 wins over decent fighters, such as Fitz Vanderpool, Tony Marshall, Raymond Joval and Javier Castillejo, Vargas lost a close fight to Shane Mosley. The fight was stopped in the 10th round due to massive swelling to Fernando’s eye. However, it was pretty much even on the judge’s cards going into the 10th, with two judges having Mosley up by one point and one judge had Vargas up by one point. Mosley dominated much of the early action, but Vargas' power and steady pressure started turning the right around by the 6th round. By the 10th round, minus the eye injury, it seemed that Vargas would eventually win the fight, for he seemed to be the sharper puncher.

However, Vargas fought that last few rounds with one eye, and you could tell the momentum swinging Fernando’s way before the fight was stopped. A major factor to consider was that Mosley landed several big punches and Vargas took them very well, as if Mosley didn't have the kind of power that could worry Vargas.

This time, however, Vargas must work on his balance and use his jab a lot more to keep the quicker Mosley on the outside. For his part, Mosley tends to loop his punches, so Vargas will have to keep a high guard, and throw his punches straighter, letting them get there first ahead of Mosley's. Unlike last time, where Vargas had to lose a dramatic amount of weight immiedately before his fight with Mosley, Vargas has kept his weight under control and it can only benefit him, for coming into camp 45 pounds overweight, isn't the smartest thing to do if you plan on winning the fight.

In his rematch with Mosley this Saturday, Vargas must lay it all on the line and take the fight to Mosley, particularly, Vargas must fight smart in the early rounds, when the 34-year-old Mosley is at his strongest. Fernando must realize this could be his last shot to redeem himself in front of a worldwide audience, for he doesn't want to be remembered as the fighter who always lost his bigh fights. Quite frankly, Vargas has given the boxing world many great moments, and I feel that on Saturday, he will give us one more to remember.

Article posted on 14.07.2006

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