Jose Valenzuela has agreed to take a step up in competition. has learned that the 22-year-old lightweight prospect will face former WBC super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas on April 16. The 10-round bout between the Mexican-born, Seattle-based Valenzuela and Mexico City’s Vargas will be part of the Errol Spence Jr.-Yordenis Ugas undercard at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Showtime will air Vargas-Valenzuela as one of four fights on its pay-per-view platform that night. Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), of nearby DeSoto, Texas, and the Cuban-born Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) will fight for Spence’s IBF and WBC welterweight titles and Ugas’ WBA “super” championship in the 12-round main event.

Valenzuela (11-0, 7 KOs), who is trained by the father of former WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez, has displayed promise, particularly offensively, during fights that have been broadcast by FOX and FS1.

In his most recent bout, Valenzuela stopped Nashville’s Austin Dulay (14-3, 10 KOs) in the fourth round December 18 at The Armory in Minneapolis. Valenzuela dropped Dulay four times before referee Charlie Fitch stopped that bout two seconds after the fourth round began.

Vargas is 37, but he was reasonably competitive versus Isaac Cruz in his last outing. Mexico City’s Cruz beat Vargas (27-3-2, 19 KOs) by big margins on all three scorecards (100-89, 99-90 and 97-92), though their 10-round lightweight fight appeared to be more competitive than that.

The rugged Cruz (22-2-1, 15 KOs) went on to test Gervonta Davis in his following fight, a 12-rounder Showtime Pay-Per-View main event Baltimore’s Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) won by unanimous decision December 5 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The strong southpaw couldn’t hurt the hard-headed Cruz, but he won 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113 and retained the WBA’s secondary lightweight title.

Vargas, meanwhile, is 2-1 since fellow Mexican Miguel Berchelt stopped him after six one-sided rounds in their rematch in May 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. He has lost only to Berchelt, who knocked out Vargas in the 11th round of their first fight, an entertaining WBC 130-pound championship match in January 2017 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.