Antonio Vargas is hoping to reclaim the glory that was once promised to him.

The 2016 U.S. Olympian will fight Jonathan Rodriguez in a WBA bantamweight world title eliminator on Saturday (February 24) at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. 

The bout will be on the Edgar Berlanga versus Padraig McCrory undercard, broadcast on DAZN.

The winner is the mandatory for the winner of Takuma Inoue and Jerwin Acacias as Inoue currently holds the WBA title. That fight takes place the same day as Vargas’s fight, but in Japan.

Vargas (17-1, 9 KOs) was signed by Top Rank after his Olympic run, a run that ended with an unforeseen knockout loss to Jose Maria Cardenas, an unheralded fighter who stopped Vargas 1:53 into the first round.

“He just caught me, he caught me with a clean shot,” Vargas admitted, reflecting on his lone career loss.

“I went in there a little cold. I remember I was in the locker room and I had my gloves on for like an hour.”

The confusion stemmed from Vargas believing he’d go after another boxer had fought. The miscommunication led to him not warming up and his only loss.

Overnight, Vargas went from being a top prospect to a guy who had been upset. 

That was in 2019, and Vargas has fought on mostly local fight cards since and subsequently built himself back into a contender.

“My last three fights have been 10 rounds,” Vargas went on. “Two of them were against former [titleholders]. Just the experience and the hunger I have, I am right there [close to an opportunity]. It kind of reminds me of back when I was with Top Rank and I had made a big name for myself. I was climbing up the ladder and I am right there again.”

The 27-year-old Vargas then discussed the 25-year-old Rodriguez, a ShoBox veteran, who holds a record of 17-1-1, 7 KOs, and is unbeaten in 10 fights. Rodriguez’s last win was significant – he stopped Khalid Yafai in one round. Yafai was the former WBA super flyweight world champion.

“I am just expecting him to come through big shots,” Vargas said of his opponent. “I have seen him fight before. He just looks to land big shots; overhands and hooks.

“I’ve actually sparred him one time about a year ago, so I have a feel for how he fights, 

“I think we did like four rounds. He doesn’t throw too much and when he throws he sits down and [plants his feet].

“Once I get that timing, it will be a lot easier to break him down. I’ve seen his style before, I just have to make sure I go in there nice and alert.”

When asked whether he saw his future in the US or boxing overseas for opportunities, Vargas was to the point: “Wherever they are paying best. I am used to traveling. When I was on the Olympic team I would travel to many countries and stuff like that. [That] is nothing new to me.”