By Keith Idec
Francisco Vargas has waited two long years for his shot at redemption.
Now that he has actually arrived at his second chance, the former WBC super featherweight champion promised he won’t waste it. His ability to avenge his lone loss could depend on how his once-fragile face holds up, but Vargas is confident he can overcome Miguel Berchelt in this second battle between Mexican rivals Saturday night.
“I’ve been patient,” Vargas said. “I’ve been waiting for this fight for two years and now it’s finally here. It’s going to be a war. I did a few different things in preparation for this fight. I worked on different strategies, but we’ll see how the fight goes. You know, when two Mexicans get into the ring, they leave everything behind. My goal is to reclaim the world title.”
Berchelt beat Vargas by 11th-round knockout in January 2017 to win the WBC 130-pound championship from him. By the fourth round of that scheduled 12-rounder, Vargas had a cut across the bridge of his nose and lacerations over his left and right eyes.
An aggressive Berchelt took advantage of Vargas’ cuts, battered him over the final few rounds and knocked out the courageous ex-champion. Vargas trailed by only two points on two scorecards (96-94, 96-94) and a third judge had their fight even (95-95) when referee Raul Caiz Jr. understandably stopped it.
The 27-year-old Berchelt (35-1, 31 KOs) anticipates another difficult fight in a rematch ESPN will televise from the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).
“The people of Tucson and watching on ESPN are in for a great show,” Berchelt said. “Vargas and I fought a great fight back in 2017, and our 2019 rematch will be no different. We are proud Mexican warriors who leave it all in the ring.”
“You will see the same ‘Alacran’ from the first fight with Vargas. I will enter the ring with a lot of desire to win and defend my title. I will defend this belt with everything that I have. This belt belongs to me.”
The 34-year-old Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs) has beaten Stephen Smith and Rod Salka in his two fights since Berchelt beat him. He hasn’t fought in the 13 months since he stopped Salka last April 12, in part because this rematch was postponed seven weeks due to Berchelt’s hand injury.
“The strategy is the same, which is to go out there to solve the problem that Vargas represents,” Berchelt said. “I will leave it all in the ring. I will give all my heart to this battle. … Every time the ‘Alacran’ fights, it’s a guarantee that the fans will see a knockout.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.