By Jake Donovan
For as long as the matchup has been a possibility, Rey Vargas has listened to Tomoki Kameda’s repeated promises of avenging an amateur loss that occurred more than a dozen years ago—along with everything else his colorful challenger has had to say along the way.
The two will finally get to meet this Saturday, headlining a DAZN livestream from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. The bout will mark the third time Vargas has played the famed venue (previously known as StubHub Center, and Home Depot Center before that), including his first-ever fight in the United States back in Aug. 2013.
As familiar as the unbeaten super bantamweight titlist is with the locale, it’s the ring itself where he finds himself in his comfort zone.
“I’ve always described myself as someone who doesn’t talk about what I can do, but rather what I can show in the ring with my fists,” Vargas (33-0, 22KOs) insisted during Thursday’s pre-fight press conference.
The demeanor of the lean Mexican boxer comes in stark contrast to that of Kameda (36-2, 20KOs), one of the sport’s more colorful characters who always has plenty to say. The Japan-born former bantamweight titlist—who relocated to Mexico City as a teenager—took something as serious as an obligatory staredown and turned it into a playful moment, sticking his tongue out at the defending titlist to abruptly end the session.
It's the best that Kameda could do to prevent from making the upcoming showdown any more personal than is already the case. He positioned himself into title contention following a 12-round win over Abigail Medina last November in Japan, having spent the past several months vowing revenge for their previous meeting back in 2007.
Vargas took the moment and his challenger’s comments all in stride, aware that it will be a different story come fight night.
“I know that Japanese fighters are amazing ring warriors, always willing to leave it all in the ring,” noted Vargas of what he expects in the fifth defense of the 122-pound title he claimed more than two years ago. “But Mexican fighters are warriors too and I can’t wait to show it on Saturday night.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox