TORONTO, ON—In a fight that more than lived up to its billing, Samuel Vargas and Ali Funeka went to war for ten rounds at the Brampton Powerade Centre on Saturday night.
Ultimately, it was Vargas who came out on top with a majority decision, but Funeka showed he had plenty left to give at 39 years of age.
Judges scored the bout 95-95, 98-92 and 97-93, but to most in attendance and watching live on FITE, it was a clear and decisive win for the hometown favorite.
It was the type of fight befitting of a crossroads bout, with both fighters vying for another opportunity on the big stage. Vargas, having fought two of the best welterweights in the world on national television in Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr., proved that he had more left in the tank than Funeka, a former three time world title challenger.
From the opening bell, Vargas assumed the role of the aggressor, bobbing and weaving his way to the inside to land punishing shots to the body. The Philadelphia influence of trainer Billy Briscoe was on full display, as the old school teacher implored him to the techniques of Joe Frazier and Dwight Muhammad Qawi, who was trained by Briscoe's mentor Wesley Mouzon.
Funeka mounted a comeback in the later rounds, using his superior reach and experience to work behind his jab, but Vargas' investment in body work was ultimately too much.
It's the career best win for Vargas, who retains the WBA-NABA welterweight championship, and looks to get back on network television in a big fight again in the near future.
In undercard action, 2016 Olympian Christian M'Billi dominated and stopped Argentinian veteran Genaro Quiroga in four rounds. M'Billi used an impressive arsenal of inside fighting to wear down his taller opponent, causing him to remain on his stool.
Welterweight prospect Kane Heron also picked up the biggest win of his career, and made it look easy in the process. Heron stopped Cesar “Dolar” Chavez in the second round after a pair of hard knockdowns stemming from hard hooks to the head and body.
Mladen Miljas needed just over a minute to dispatch of Hector Aguilar in heavyweight action. No opponent has been able to take Miljas outside of two rounds in his career thus far.