By Jake Donovan
SAN ANTONIO, TX--
Francisco Vargas made a major statement Thursday evening at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. The unbeaten junior lightweight contender picked up a big win with an 8th round knockout of Will Tomlinson in their HBO-televised main event.
The bout was never short on action, although lacking ebb and flow as Vargas never seized control no matter the pressure applied in return. Tomlinson came to fight and was all too willing to trade with the crowd favorite, a tactic that quickly contributed to his undoing.
Vargas took advantage of his opponent's aggression, inviting him to trade and then picking him apart with flush combinations, almost always cleaned up by a left hook. The closest Vargas came to adversity was in round three, when a clash of heads left him with an inconsequential cut.
Time was called later in the fight for ringside doctors to tend to a wound above Tomlinson's eye. Unlike Vargas, the cut on the Aussie's face was indicative of the punishment he absorbed, with the worse yet to come.
As the fight wore on, the question was whether the referee or Tomlinson's corner would have the sense to rescue the fighter from his brave fighting heart. With the corner feeding the fighter instructions following a brutal 7th round, it was clear that it would be up to referee Laurence Cole to find the right moment to step in and end the onslaught.
That moment came early in round eight. A left hook from Vargas put Tomlinson (23-2-1, 13KOs) on his bum for the bout's lone knockdown. Cole stepped in and convinced the bloodied up fighter to remain on the canvas as he called a halt to the contest.
The official time was 0:30 of round eight.
Vargas rolls to 22-0-1 (16KOs), and his future brighter than ever. The 30-year old from Mexico is the leading contender for two separate belts at junior lightweight. While mentioning a willingness to fight for either belt, Vargas specifically called for a shot at the winner of the April 11 title clash between Orlando Salido and Rocky Martinez in Puerto Rico.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy had his way with Fabiano Peña, banging out a 5th round stoppage in the opening bout of the HBO Latino telecast.
The matchup of unbeaten light heavyweights was spirited but largely one-sided. Shrabanskyy won every round before forcing Peña (11-1-1, 8KOs) into submission after five rounds, as the 27-year old Brazilian was disallowed by his corner to come out for the start of round six.
Shrabanskyy - a Russian banger now fighting out of Los Angeles - now improves to 13-0 (11KOs). The win is already his second of 2015, having beaten the stuffing out of Garrett Wilson earlier this year, on the undercard of Deontay Wilder's heavyweight title winning effort over Bermane Stiverne in Las Vegas.
In undercard action, Yamaguchi Falcao scored a vicious 1st round knockout of Raymond Terry.
The pair of unbeaten middleweights were briefly featured in clips on the HBO Latino broadcast, mainly showing Falcao's highlight reel knockout as he blasted Terry along the ropes in forcing the stoppage inside of two minutes of the opening round.
Falcao improves to 4-0-1 (2KOs) with the win. He and younger brother Esquiva Falcao both served on the 2012 Brazil Olympic boxing team; Esquiva - who fights for Top Rank - captured the Silver medal, while Yamaguchi - a member of the Golden Boy Promotions family - took home Olympic bronze.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox