Jessie Vargas will walk into ring Feb. 29 against Mikey Garcia as the much bigger man, sporting a five-foot height advantage and three-inch reach advantage.
The 30-year-old Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) signed on to fight Garcia as a welterweight, a division he was planning on moving forward from in September when negotiations fell apart to fight then junior middleweight Jaime Munguia.
Vargas last stopped Humberto Soto in April while weighing in at 150.4 lbs. for a 151-pound catchweight fight.
“I was planning to compete at 154, but for this fight, I’m stuck in the middle,” Vargas told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “I can still make 147, but it takes a little more sacrifice for me. But I can make it. That’s the point where I’m at now, and every reason to make this fight happen, because it’s a fight that the fans want. So let’s give it to them. I’ll make a little bit more sacrifice to come down to 147 so they can get what they want.”
The 32-year-old Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) will look to prove that resuming his career as a welterweight was the best move for him against a fighter with a 33 percent career knockout ratio.
In his last fight, Garcia proved that he had the chin, withstanding a career high 345 punches — nearly 29 a round — in a one-sided unanimous decision against Errol Spence Jr.
“Mikey Garcia is a tremendous fighter. He learns from every experience and gets better as he goes,” said Vargas. “I have to make sure to stay on point and ahead of the game by not giving him any advantage or momentum. I have to make sure to use my size advantage.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].