Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas was born in Isabel, Puerto Rico, and idolized the great Felix “Tito” Trinidad. For the first time in his professional career, he’ll have a building full of Puerto Rican fans cheering him on. Vargas will fight Willie Shaw in a 10-round junior welterweight bout Saturday, April 24 at a sold-out Silver Spurs Arena in the Puerto Rican enclave of Kissimmee, Florida.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with All Star Boxing, Vargas-Shaw will highlight a loaded undercard showcasing Puerto Rico’s top young talent streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Following the undercard, Mexico's Emanuel Navarrete defends his WBO featherweight world title against Puerto Rican contender Christopher Diaz, and super middleweight Edgar Berlanga (16-0, 16 KOs) seeks to score his 17th consecutive first-round knockout against Demond Nicholson (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
“It is time to show the world who ‘The Prodigy’ is," Vargas said. "Fighting in Kissimmee is like fighting in Puerto Rico. After this fight, the Puerto Rican fans will talk about me. I am going to put on a show. I’ve seen some videos of Shaw on YouTube. I’m not going to take anything away from him, but he doesn’t have skills like I do. I have more experience than him. It’s time for me to break him down and show the world I’m a contender.”
Vargas (18-1, 9 KOs) had a breakthrough performance last October on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez undercard, dominating contender Kendo Castaneda via unanimous decision. He made headlines last June when he conducted his post-fight interview on ESPN after Salvador Briceno knocked out a pair of his upper front teeth. Despite the dental mishap, Vargas nearly shut out Briceno. Vargas has won 12 consecutive fights since a controversial disqualification loss.
“I’ve shown my intelligence in the ring. I barely got touched against Castaneda,” Vargas said. “I threw more than 800 punches in 10 rounds. It showed me that I belonged with higher-level fighters. I was letting him survive. That was me being nice. This time, I’ll apply more pressure and get the stoppage.”
Shaw (13-2, 9 KOs), from Oakland, California, enters the lion’s den as an experienced road warrior, having fought six times in Mexico since turning pro in 2017. Last August, Shaw pushed top prospect Omar Juarez before losing a six-round decision. He rebounded in January with a second-round stoppage in Tijuana.
In other undercard action:
Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, 12 KOs) vs. Jamaine Ortiz (14-0, 8 KOs)
8 Rounds, Lightweight
Orlando Gonzalez (16-0, 10 KOs) vs. Juan Antonio Lopez (15-8, 6 KOs)
8 Rounds, Featherweight
Xander Zayas (7-0, 5 KOs) vs Demarcus Layton (8-1-1, 5 KOs)
6 Rounds, Welterweight
Jeremy Adorno (4-0, 1 KO) vs. Ramiro Martinez (2-0-2, 1 KO)
4 Rounds, Junior Featherweight
Jaycob Gomez (1-0, 1 KO) vs. Mobley Villegas (3-1, 2 KOs)
4 Rounds, Junior Lightweight