By Ryan Burton
BoxingScene.com recently caught up with former two-division champion Jessie Vargas who returned to the ring in December with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Aaron Herrera. The fight was Vargas’ first since a November, 2016 loss to Manny Pacquiao.
The 28-year-old pitched a shutout on the scorecards and dropped Herrera in the sixth round. While he was happy with his performance, he admits that the journeyman Herrera wasn’t his first choice for an opponent.
“I had a long layoff, a little over a year but I was hoping I was coming back for a world championship against Keith Thurman but my advisers said he was still hurt and wasn’t available to fight in December so I couldn’t pursue it and the other option was Aaron Herrera so I took it,” Vargas explained.
As for who he wants next, he said the goal remains the same.
“Nothing has changed. I am still looking for the fight against Keith Thurman. I thought that he was interested as well from my understanding. He actually went out of his way to disrespect me. He tried saying Jessie Vargas was a tune fight and isn’t a difficult fight. I’m sure plenty of fans saw that video and saw him state those words,” Vargas told BoxingScene.com.
“He was disrespectful how I saw it. When I saw the video it actually hyped me up and I said, ‘okay if that is what he thinks - I am going to give him a big surprise. Let’s make it happen.’ It got the fire burning and to be honest and the fire is still burning. He lit the match and now he doesn’t know what to do. He is backtracking.
“He is saying he doesn’t want to fight any former world champions or world champions. I don’t know how a fighter holding the WBC and WBA title would want to take any steps back. You don’t want to backtrack. You want to fight the best to prove you are the best. There is a reason behind Keith Thurman saying he doesn’t want to fight any top level opposition.”
Vargas’ comments were in reference to Thurman’s remarks at Showtime’s January 24th press conference to announce the first half of their 2018 schedule.
Thurman is slated to return to the ring on May 19th but made it clear he wouldn’t be facing an upper level opponent and referred to 2018 as his, “get back year.” Thurman underwent surgery after his March 4th, 2016 victory over Danny Garcia and hasn’t fought since. He wants to slowly ramp up his level of competition before facing a former champion like Vargas.
“I am ranked #3 by the WBC so I don’t see any issue in getting this fight made. Especially with him saying I am a tune up fight. If that is the way he feels why is he backing out now? He is getting cold feet and I don’t know why. Once you say this guy is an easy fight and then a month later you say he isn’t an easy fight and you want an easier fight. Those words shouldn’t be coming out of the mouth of a champion. That has me eager to prove him wrong.
“Apparently he must have changed his mind and thought it through and found out I am not a tune up. Only a coward backs out from what he says so he better step up to the plate. We can make this fight happen. The minute he agrees then the fight will be made. It’s that easy,” Said Vargas.
Send questions or comments to [email protected] You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ringsidewriter