It wasn’t exactly the 2019 campaign he had in mind, although Jessie Vargas found ways to keep active even if not always in the ring.
The former two-division titlist fought just once on the year—a 6th round stoppage of Humberto Soto last April. The bout was to serve as his test in a junior middleweight uniform, as he eyed a title run in a third weight division. His year was instead spent on the other side of the ropes, whether as an interested observer or as a part-time announcer with DAZN. The latter role has come natural to the personable Las Vegas native, though a career he’d rather consider once he’s done as a prizefighter—and certainly well beyond this weekends’s showdown versus Mikey Garcia live from The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas (Saturday, DAZN, 9:00pm ET).
“I appreciate the opportunities that Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN have given me, I just try to do my best in any role,” Vargas (29-2-2, 11KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “That said, my main priority is to once again become a world champion. I’ve shown that I am more than just a fighter—but right now for this next fight I just want to show what I can do in the ring.”
Vargas gets that chance in a big way, as he goes all in for this weekend’s battle of former four-division champs. Garcia (39-1, 30KOs) has also found success behind the mic, but the 32-year old from Oxnard, California remains keen in his pursuit of a 5th divisional title at welterweight. His one shot at such an accomplishment fell miserably flat, dropping a 12-round shutout to unbeaten Errol Spence last March at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas—the home to the Dallas Cowboys, with this Saturday’s event taking place on the grounds of their practice facility.
No belt is at stake for the 12-round main event, nor has Vargas fought for a major title since conceding his welterweight strap to Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao. A lopsided November 2016 to the all-time great ended Vargas’ reign at just eight months, having previously enjoyed a year-long junior welterweight title reign.
The winner of Saturday’s headliner will likely position himself for an even bigger fight later in the year, whether for a title or simply another massive payday. It’s the plan that was in place for Vargas when he signed with promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA outfit, and one he intends to see through with a win this weekend.
“I’ve always appreciated that Eddie and DAZN have supported me in all opportunities, as a fighter, an announcer or any role they’ve asked me to perform,” notes Vargas. “I feed off that positive energy in their belief in my talents in and out of the ring. They signed me and believe in me for a reason.
“I plan to show them (on Saturday) that they made a wise investment in my future—in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox