Liam Smith is aiming to prove he can become a two-time World champion and send Jessie Vargas into a new career in politics with a career-ending defeat when they clash at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night, live worldwide on DAZN.
Smith and Vargas meet in a must-win fight that will determine the next chapters of both careers. The winner will close in on a shot at the title, while the loser will face questions over their future in the sport.
‘Beefy’ has been the more active of the two, with a KO win over local Liverpool rival Anthony Fowler in October following a harsh points defeat in Russia last May to Magomed Kurbanov, while Vargas has been out of the ring since tasting defeat for the third time in his career against Mikey Garcia in Texas in February 2020.
Saturday’s fight has been on the cards for some time now, long before it was postponed in February after Vargas caught COVID, and there’s been plenty of back and forth between the former World rulers. Vargas has been sparring in the political sphere too, launching a campaign to running to represent Nevada’s 4th U.S. Congressional District, and while he believes he’ll be the man to challenge for World honors once again, Smith feels the Las Vegas man is already looking at his next career and will pay the price in the Big Apple.
“You question if he wants to be here,” said Smith. “I have this thing in my mind; he’s running for Congress, he hasn’t boxed for two years, he’s only got one fight left on his contract, so is this his last hurrah? Give me one more payday and I’ll move into politics?
“He’s very good technically, he’s got that typical Mexican American style and he likes to fight, meaning, he’s more of a boxer but he doesn’t shy away from a fight.
“I know he’s a nice guy but for some reason, there’s a bit of needle there. I boxed Sam Eggington in March 2019, and Eddie mentioned Jessie’s name in the ring, and I thought, ‘yeah, you promote him, I’d like that’. We jumped on it, he fought Garcia which was cool — but that was two years ago, and he could have fought me in those two years.
“I met Jessie at MSG at the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz fight when Callum was on the card, and we shook hands on the fight, so it just did my head in a bit not because I was chasing him and he’s a big money fight or a World title fight, I was after him because neither of us were going to get a title shot and it’s a very good fight.
“When I look at the landscape of the 154lb division, I believe I can be World champion again. If I didn’t, I would retire because I’m happy, I’ve got two lovely daughters, I’ve ruled the world – so I could retire a happy man. People would bite your hand off for the career I’ve had, but I am realistic when I look at the champions and contenders and think ‘I can beat him, him and him’ so I am not done yet, I still have that fire in me.
“He’s only lost to Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, Mikey Garcia and soon, to Liam Smith. We’re in boxing to be in good fights and he’s one that I want to get rid of.
“Ultimately, I’m going to be too big and too strong for him. I’m a fully-fledged 154lber, I’ve been there my whole career and he’s gone from Light-Welter to Welter and now Super-Welter. If you can make 147lbs you are not a proper 154lber just yet and I think that’s going to play a part.
“Jessie – make sure you are ready. If this is your last hurrah, let’s give the fans a great fight and one they can talk about. I do think that you are going to get that, I’m not just saying that, I like to be in good fights, I don’t come to hold, I don’t come to make it a bore fest or awkward; I come to fight and I think he’s got that in him too, so I think you are going to get a good fight but a Liam Smith win.”
Smith and Vargas clash on an historic night of action in New York, topped by Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano becoming the first female boxers to headline the famous arena with Taylor’s undisputed Lightweight championship on the line.
There’s more undisputed action on the card as Crews-Dezurn and Cederroos decide who is the top dog at 168lbs. Olympic Gold medal star Galal Yafai makes his American debut and defends his WBC International Flyweight Title against Miguel Cartagena in his second pro fight, Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams is in a tough test with fellow unbeaten Middleweight Chordale Booker.
Reshat Mati is always popular in his home city and the ‘Albanian Bear’ meets Joe Eli Hernandez over eight rounds, Australia’s Skye Nicolson fights for the second time as a pro against Shanecqua Paisley Davis over six rounds and Light-Heavyweight talent Khalil Coe makes the short trip from Jersey City to face William Langston over six.
‘Beefy’ aims to send Vargas into politics with defeat in New York
Jessie Vargas and Liam Smith collide in a must-win Super-Welterweight clash at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday, April 30, live worldwide on DAZN, leading the undercard for the historic clash between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, brought to you by Matchroom Boxing and Most Valuable Promotions.
Vargas (29-3-2 11 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since his narrow reversal at the hands of Mikey Garcia in Texas in February 2020. The former two-weight World champion is hungry to become a three-time ruler. The 32-year-old is training for the Smith clash while running his political campaign to represent Nevada’s 4th Congressional District.
Smith (30-3-1 17 KOs) will defend the WBA International strap he won in his last outing. In eight rounds in October, he stopped local rival Anthony Fowler at the M&S Arena in Liverpool, bouncing back in style from a slight loss in Russia to Magomed Kurbanov in May. The 33-year-old held the WBO World title in 2015-16 and now sits at #4 in the WBA rankings and eyeing two-time World champion status.
Vargas and Smith were due to meet this weekend in Phoenix, but COVID ruled the former out of the clash, and Saturday’s bill will now be topped by Carlos Cuadras and Jesse Rodriguez battling for the vacant WBC World Super-Flyweight title live worldwide on DAZN. Vargas and Smith will come to the Big Apple all guns blazing, and both men believe they will end the career of the other on April 30.
“Thankfully, I’m now through COVID,” said Vargas. “I want to show everyone I’m better than before, I’ve been working on things in the gym, so it’s not like I’ve had a two-year lay-off.
“Liam is talking a lot, and the fire is burning inside me. You don’t trash talk me, and I’m coming in a different person. I’ll exploit all of his weaknesses and take him out – My goal is to knock him out and retire him! This will be an action-packed fight.
“It’s going to be an amazing night. Amanda and Katie are trailblazers for the sport, and I’m honored to be a part of a historic event in New York.”
“I’m buzzing and proud to be fighting at Madison Square Garden,” said Smith. “It’s one I can tick off my bucket list now along with Las Vegas; MSG is the pinnacle of boxing, and everything happens for a reason, so I am happy to be heading to New York on April 30. The main event is fantastic, Katie is always in exciting fights, and I am sure there will be lots of British and Irish fans there who will back me.
“This fight is an itch that has needed scratching for a long time now, and I want to beat Jessie and beat him well and move on. I hope that he turns up fit and healthy this time as I aim to retire him and send him into politics. He wants to move into politics, and I will give him a reason to concentrate on that 100 percent.
“Jessie stopping me? I find that highly unlikely when only one person has done that and Jessie is no Canelo Alvarez. I fully intend on stopping him, being the first man to do it, and adding my name to the names that have beaten him.”
Years in the making, the biggest fight ever in women’s boxing between the pound-for-pound #1 and #2 fighters of the world is one that will not only make boxing history but women’s sports history. MSG has hosted thousands of fights through its illustrious years, beginning more than a century ago on July 17, 1882; now, 140 years later, this matchup finally marks the first time two female fighters are headlining a combat sports event at ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena. #ForHistory