By Jake Donovan
Francisco Vargas will have to wait a few more weeks for the chance to avenge the lone loss of his career.
Reigning super featherweight titlist Miguel Berchelt was forced out of a scheduled March 23 rematch after suffering an injured right hand in sparring, BoxingScene.com has learned.
The bout was due to headline an ESPN telecast live from The Forum in Inglewood, California. Whether or not the same formula can apply will depend on the availability of the network and venue, although the show could just as easily switch to an ESPN+ livestream.
“We were just notified this evening,” Roberto Diaz, executive matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions (Vargas’ promoter) informed BoxingScene.com Tuesday evening. “It’s not major and a few weeks change (in fight night dates).”
A working date of May 11 is in place for the planned rematch.
Berchelt (35-1, 31KOs) was due to make the fifth defense of the 130-pound title he claimed in an 11th round stoppage of Vargas in their Jan. ’17 clash. The 27-year old knockout artist from Merida, Mexico is coming off of a violently entertaining 7th round stoppage of countryman Miguel Roman last November in El Paso, Texas.
As is often the case with many noted punchers, Berchelt has a history of hand injuries. He was forced to sit out the balance of 2017 after injuring his right thumb in a 12-round decision win over former titlist Takashi Miura in July ’17. The injury permanently killed plans for a Dec. ’17 clash with countryman Orlando Salido, who went on to face—and was manhandled by—Roman in what currently serves as the final fight of his storied career.
Berchelt bounced back strong in 2018, scoring knockouts in each of his three ring appearances including the aforementioned win over Roman.
Meanwhile, Vargas (25-1-2, 18KOs) has bounced back from his loss to Berchelt with two wins in as many comeback fights.
The 34-year old all-action slugger from Mexico City rose to prominence in his off-the-canvas 9th round knockout of Miura to win the 130-pound crown in a Nov. ’15 war that was properly honored as 2015 Fight of the Year.
Several outlets would bestow similar honors upon Vargas for his first title defense, a 12-round draw with Salido in a memorable June ’12 war that somehow surpasses incredibly high expectations. The win over Miura and stalemate with Salido took a lot of Vargas, who looked worse for the wear over the latter half of his eventual knockout loss to Bercnelt.
The former 130-pound titlist sat out for most of the rest of 2017, returning that December in a technical decision win over England’s Stephen Smith. His lone piece of ring action came last April, overwhelming veteran fringe contender Rod Salka over six one-sided rounds.
With the injury suffered by his lone career conqueror, Vargas will now be looking at a layoff of more than a year heading into the planned rematch. Unfortunately, it’s the current best case scenario, as a seven-week delay doesn’t quite leave enough time for a stay-busy bout.
“We will just prepare accordingly and wish Berchelt a speedy recovery,” notes Diaz. “And of course, hope and pray for no further postponements.”