By Chris Robinson
Shortly after Saturday night’s Brandon Rios-Richard Abril bout inside of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, I caught up with undefeated welterweight hopeful Jessie Vargas and got his take on what we had all just seen.
Rios, a former champion at 135 pounds, has been under some criticism for once again failing to make the lightweight limit prior to the contest and for not finding a way to break through offensively against his awkward Cuban foe. Scores of 116-112 and 115-113 were read in Rios’ favor, with a 117-111 tally against him, but there were those in attendance and watching on pay-per-view who felt that Abril’s boxing and counterpunching tactics were employed well enough to warrant him the win.
Giving his take as he watched from ringside, Vargas seemed sympathetic to Rios’ struggle.
“It seemed like Brandon couldn’t really get his rhythm going, but I think it’s just an experience for him,” Vargas stated. “I think he’s never been in front of a fighter that looks for ways to get away from him. That’s what he was doing but he was also fighting him a bit dirty, putting his elbow in his face. But, being a boxer, you have to deal with it and I think Brandon should have looked for something to counter.”
Vargas was then quick to shift his attention to the chaotic action that took place on the undercard, as Denver, Colorado’s Mike Alvarado pounded out a ten-round decision over a very brave Mauricio Herrera.
In Vargas’ eyes, it was the best action of the evening.
“The fight of the night was Alvarado and Herrera,” Vargas continued. “It was a good fight. Herrera didn’t give up. Anytime he got caught, he’d come back with three. And Alvarado is a friend of mine and I think he did a good fight. That’s what he had to do. He was the stronger fighter and he landed the more effective punches. It was a close fight but Alvarado took it.”
Vargas himself used to call the junior welterweight ranks home before officially moving up in weight for his February 24th victory of gatekeeper Lanardo Tyner. With Rios moving up to 140 and Alvarado a formidable force in the division, Vargas was asked if he wished he was still there to capitalize on such opportunities.
“I think there is a lot of talent at 147,” Vargas stated. “I think there’s more money at 147, so I’m happy to be at this weight and I’m even happier because I feel stronger and I feel like I’m going to be a force to be reckoned with at 147.”
Vargas trains out of the nearby Mayweather Boxing Club and fights under his mentor and friend Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Mayweather Promotions umbrella. Next up for the 22-year old Vargas is a date with former title challenge Alfonso Gomez, a fight that is set to take place on the undercard of Mayweather’s May 5th bout with WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand.
It’s easy to tell that Vargas is relishing the chance to shine against Gomez.
“Myself and Robert Alcazar are training very hard for this fight,” said Vargas. “We have a very good game plan. Whatever Alfonso Gomez wants to bring May 5th, we’ll be ready. What we know about Alfonso Gomez, is that he’s a tough fighter. He always comes to fight. He always leaves everything in the ring and I expect no different. He’s going to bring everything come May 5th, but I think I’m the stronger fighter. I have youth on my side and I’m a smart boxer.”