It’s been well over a year since Jessie Vargas has been required to come in at the true welterweight limit for a fight. The former two-division titlist has since briefly flirted with the idea of a move up the scale only to be properly enticed to drop back down in weight.
Vargas is fully prepared to commit to life as a welterweight one more time as he prepares for his February 29 showdown versus former four-division titlist Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30KOs) at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. It’s the type of fight he sought when he first signed with Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN, and one which he didn’t hesitate to accept even if it means giving up a little bit more than expected through the holiday season—and in general.
“It will take more a strict diet to make the welterweight limit, but it was never a concern when the fight was offered,” Vargas (29-2-2, 11KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “The fight was agreed to terms at 147 pounds. This is the type of fight I’ve wanted for a long time now.”
Vargas was among the first boxers to sign with Matchroom Boxing USA and promoter Eddie Hearn and headlined the first United States-based DAZN show, fighting to a 12-round draw with Thomas Dulorme. The October 2018 bout took place at welterweight, with Vargas returning six months later in a 6th round knockout of Humberto Soto, for which he weighed 150 ½ pounds.
It turned out to be a one-and-done affair in terms of Vargas’ 2019 campaign, eyeing several big fights at the junior middleweight limit including a discussed showdown versus then-unbeaten 154-pound titlist Jaime Munguia. The fight didn’t pan out, nor did an explored December clash versus former titleholder Liam Smith, leading Vargas to consider a drop back down in weight for the right opportunity.
Garcia came to the rescue upon agreeing to terms with Hearn and DAZN for a one-fight deal to face Vargas. The fight will be the first for Garcia since a lopsided loss to Errol Spence in their welterweight title fight last March, his first at the weight after having never tipped the scales at heavier than 139 ½ pounds.
It was a bit of a surprise when the Oxnard, California native announced his intention to remain at the weight, but one where Vargas was willing to welcome him back to the division with open arms.
“It will be a bit more of a sacrifice for me,” Vargas acknowledges. “But we’ve done this plenty of times before and will be well-prepared for the fight. I’m not going to train just to make weight, we will be strong and lean in the ring. We will be fast and explosive.
“This is a big fight for the fans. We are giving them what they want to see. With that comes sacrifices like this, which I am willing to make for the fights that will lead to me becoming a world champion again.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox