SAN ANTONIO – Rey Vargas’ goal now that he has won the WBC featherweight title is to add another 126-pound championship to his collection.
The unbeaten Mexican made it clear during a post-fight press conference Saturday night that he wants to box Leo Santa Cruz next. Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) and Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs), the WBA “super” featherweight champion, both are affiliated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, which should make their unification fight easier to put together than bouts against champions represented by competing promoters.
“I want to unify titles,” Vargas said. “That’s the main goal. And the real winners of that fight will be the fans because our styles mesh perfectly. It would be kind of a fight between warriors. We’re both Mexican warriors and it’s a perfect fight to see blood and to see some really hard hits going on there.”
Vargas overcame a ninth-round knockdown to defeat Mark Magsayo by split decision in a 12-round main event Showtime televised Saturday night from Alamodome.
The taller, longer Vargas engaged more than Magsayo anticipated at times and beat the previously undefeated Filipino on the scorecards of judges Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland, both of whom scored their fight 115-112. Judge Jesse Reyes scored their closely contested bout for Magsayo (26-1, 14 KOs) by one point, 114-113.
The 31-year-old Vargas, who works with legendary Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, became a champion in a second weight class. The Mexico City native held the WBC super bantamweight championship before he began competing in the featherweight division last year.
The 33-year-old Santa Cruz, of Rosemead, California, hasn’t fought at the featherweight limit of 126 pounds in almost 3½ years, yet the WBA still recognizes Santa Cruz as its “super” 126-pound champion. The four-division champion defeated Rafael Rivera by unanimous decision in his last featherweight fight, a 12-round, non-title bout in February 2019 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The WBA also recognizes a secondary featherweight champion, England’s Leigh Wood (26-2, 16 KOs). Another British boxer, Josh Warrington (31-1-1, 8 KOs), owns the IBF 126-pound championship.
Warrington and Wood are promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.
Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) is the WBO featherweight champion. When Vargas was specifically asked about boxing Navarrete, who is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., he emphasized a preference to face Santa Cruz.
“Good fights abound, that’s for sure,” Vargas said. “The first step was to win this world title. Now it’s a whole new world out there. But I insist the fight that I want to unify is against Leo Santa Cruz. But, of course, we would consider any and all options [moving] forward.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.