By Jake Donovan
In four years as a pro fighter, Jessie Vargas has shown his ability to handle himself inside the ring.
Recent events have proven he is just as capable of taking care of business beyond the ropes as well.
The unbeaten Vegas-based prospect made major headlines in recent weeks, first signing with standout boxing manager Cameron Dunkin and now inking a deal with Top Rank. The latter news came with far greater fanfare, considering his time spent with rival company Mayweather Promotions.
There was no ulterior motive in signing with Top Rank, a move that came shortly after Vargas (19-0, 9KO) was officially a promotional free agent. The 23-year old simply made the decision that best suited his career needs.
“I was a free agent. Before Floyd went to prison, we were trying to negotiate a deal,” Vargas recalls of the events that led to the big move. "I spoke with Floyd and his people, but other companies came into the mix as well. Top Rank was one of them and made me a great offer. In the end, I made the business decision that I felt was best for my career.”
The move was grossly misinterpreted by several in the media, suggested by some irresponsible outlets as a message sent by Top Rank to Mayweather Promotions – and in effect the company’s chief business partner Golden Boy Promotions. Others suggested it was a hit and run by Vargas, as the signing comes shortly after Mayweather was spent to prison.
Needless to say, the conspiracy theorists have it very, very wrong this time around. Vargas made sure to leave all doors open and ensure that there were no hard feelings on his part. It’s called a business for a reason and this decision was purely – business.
“I could’ve done it whether he was in or out of jail,” Vargas notes. “We were negotiating before he went in. My eyes weren’t on any other company until the contract expired. We had offers but still negotiated with Floyd.
“Mayweather Promotions did a terrific job with my career. I have nothing but good things to say about them. We didn’t leave on bad terms. I just had to make the best decision for me."
Vargas understood the business side as far back as his tour with the 2008 Mexico Olympic boxing squad. A gifted amateur with a record of 135-20, Vargas was scouted by dozens of managers. Among them was Dunkin, with whom he came close to signing at the time before deciding to go in another direction.
Four years later, the two managed to pick up where the left off and ink a deal.
“Cameron Dunkin is a great manager,” says Vargas. “We had a chance to work together when I was turning pro in 2008. We didn’t do business at the time but finished our discussion on good terms. This time, we agreed to work together. He’s a great person to represent you.”
Vargas expects to represent Dunkin and Top Rank for the first time in mid-September. The unbeaten welterweight is being slated for an undercard appearance on the Sergio Martinez v. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pay-per-view show in Las Vegas.
Plans beyond September aren’t immediately known, but Vargas hopes for at least one more fight before the year is out. By 2013, the goal is to challenge for a major title, with his next two fights to bring him that much closer to making it a reality.
Vargas was on that path in his past several fights, which included a couple of high profile showcase slots on undercards headlined by Mayweather. The win over Forbes came in supporting capacity to his boss’ 12-round decision win over Miguel Cotto last month, while a gutsy split decision win over Josesito Lopez last September served as the talk of the night until Mayweather knocked out Victor Ortiz in the main event.
In a strange twist of fate, Lopez is now facing Ortiz in a welterweight bout in which an alphabet title was made available, while Vargas remains viewed as a red-hot prospect on the verge of welterweight contender status.
The right opportunities have been lined up to continue the progression – consecutive wins over Lopez, Lanardo Tyner and Forbes serve as a proper starting point. Now it’s up to Top Rank to ensure that the next few fights complete the transformation.
“Everyone knows I’m trying to capture a world title,” states Vargas. “I want for these next fights to bring me that much closer.”
Whatever the future has in store, Vargas remains appreciative of the path that led him to this point. Inking the best deal possible for the next stage of his career was the primary objective for Vargas, but just as important was his forming and maintaining business relationships and personal friendships.
“It was an honor to fight for Floyd,” Vargas acknowledges. “I didn’t get a negative reaction from (Mayweather Promotions). I’m sure they didn’t like my decision, but they didn’t react negative. I was always a fan of Floyd and still am. I will continue to support him. I’m happy for everything he’s done for himself and all he did for me.”
Now comes the time to do right by his newest bosses.
“I can’t wait to see what Top Rank and Cameron Dunkin have in store for me. I look forward to becoming their next world champion.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox