TORONTO, ON-- Samuel Vargas has been on boxing's biggest stage, and he's determined to prove that he still belongs there.
On August 19, Vargas steps up in one of the biggest fights of his career, as he battles Ali Funeka in the main event of Lee Baxter Promotions' second event at the Brampton Powerade Centre.
Without a doubt, Vargas-Funeka is one of the highest level bouts to be staged in Toronto in several years.
“Sam is still at a stage in his career where he's improving, and to challenge a guy who's been a world title contender for the better part of a decade shows that he's still hungry, and still wants to test himself,” said Baxter.
Vargas is riding the momentum of a dominant win over Armando Robles at LBP's first Powerade Centre event, as well as a homecoming win in Colombia over former world title challenger Marco Antonio Avendano. With a victory over a three-time world title challenger, the Colombian-born Canadian would find himself right back in the bigger picture.
Funeka has some unfinished business in the Great White North. The last time “Rush Hour” fought on Canadian soil, he was on the wrong end of one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory. Although many viewers felt he defeated Joan Guzman in Quebec City in 2009, the bout was scored a draw. HBO's unofficial scorer Harold Lederman scored the bout 117-111 for Funeka, and calls for an investigation into the actual judges soon followed.
"Canadian fans have always had a soft spot for Funeka. The crowd at the Pepsi Coliseum was on his side and fell in love with him that night. He deserves this fight as much as Sam does," said Baxter.
Nonetheless, Funeka has remained a fighting contender ever since, going on the road and battling some of the sport's top stars. Last year, he upset top Russian prospect Viskhan Murzabekov in his opponent's homeland, and more recently, fought in a bloody battle with Manny Pacquiao opponent Jeff Horn, and even dropped him before being stopped himself.
This bout, then, provides a measuring stick for Vargas to compare himself against Pacquiao and other top welterweights. Can he have an easier time with Funeka than Horn?
Vargas has already fought two of the division's very best, Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr., and has acquitted himself well, proving to be a tough and durable competitor.
Against Funeka, he can prove that he is even more than that.
“We always have our eye on big fights for Sam. A win over Funeka would really resonate in the boxing world,” said Baxter.