Interesting matchup: Garcia striving to prove he’s a real welterweight, Vargas primed to spring upset
By Bill Tibbs
When Jessie Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KO’s) steps into the ring this coming Saturday in Frisco, Texas against former, multiple world champion Mikey Garcia he will looking to cash in on a win-win situation with a victory. While it would be a massive understatement to only call Vargas a ‘tough test’ for Garcia, (he has earned much more credentials than that), the reality is that he is the B-side in this one; and it’s not a bad spot to be in.
To add to the confusion factor for casual boxing followers, the two fighters will be battling for the WBC Diamond welterweight title.
Garcia (39-1, 30 KO’s) is on a new, 1-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and is being paid in the $7m range for this assignment. That is huge money for the Riverside, California resident, a fighter that is coming in off a loss (granted against a pre-car crash Errol Spence - a P4P fighter who is naturally much bigger) and whom might not even be fighting in his best weight division.
But, despite looking all wrong as a welterweight in his last fight, Garcia is indeed returning to the 147-pound class. The long game being played here is, more than likely, a fight with welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. (Despite Manny turning back the clock time and again, he is still looked at as the safest, big dough score for a welterweight. It is assumed he will get old one night, after all he’s 41, and every welter in boxing wants to be there when he does).
Meanwhile, Vargas is in a great spot here because if he loses then his stock really doesn’t fall as he isn’t expected to win. If he wins, he slots himself into a great spot for a big money fight down the line. Vargas, a Las Vegas native, born and raised, is a former WBA super lightweight and WBO welterweight champion and is looking to add one more world title to his trophy case.
Vargas knows that England’s Hearn isn’t paying Garcia this kind of money with a chance of winning; he is expecting a Garcia victory. After a win, (which also might help to erase the Spence debacle), they can map out their next move towards a title and some big money fights on DZAN.
In their mind, Vargas is just a well-qualified name to add to the resume as they rebuild. However, this is all fine with Vargas who hopes to quietly slip into Texas and upset the applecart. Vargas, a fighter that is coming in at 3-2-2 in his last seven fights, is coming in off of a victory almost a year ago and that was against a shopworn Humberto Soto who may have had his best days as a featherweight. In short, he doesn’t have the numbers or names at this stage to be looked at as a serious threat to the highly talented Garcia – and that is OK with Vargas.
In a recent interview, Vargas made it clear that he likes the spot he is in entering the fight and is looking forward to surprising a few people.
“It’s a big fight for fight fans, it’s one people have wanted for a long time now,” said Vargas. “We are giving them what they want to see, it’s going to be a great showdown. He’s a warrior and so am I, we both always go for the win and do anything possible to get it. I really believe in myself and my abilities, it’s one of the fights that will generate a lot of attention and it’s the perfect time to shine and show that I am here to stay - I need to show that I am going to be a world champion again and this is the perfect fight to show that.”