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Francisco Vargas sees championship territory beyond Will Tomlinson

Fighters Network


Francisco Vargas (R) inches aways from connecting with Abner Cotto's face on March 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. Vargas won the fight by unanimous decision. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy Promotions-Getty Images.

Francisco Vargas (R) inches away from connecting with Abner Cotto’s face on March 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. Vargas won the fight by unanimous decision. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy Promotions-Getty Images.


Junior lightweight contender Francisco Vargas knows where he comes from, and he also knows where he is headed.

Vargas (21-0-1, 15 knockouts) is one of Mexico’s most talented young fighters, and his loaded curriculum suggests that he is well on his way to a title bout within this year. And on March 12, he intends to give the world notice of his intention to climb to the top of the 130-pound division when he takes on a top contender in Australia’s “Wild” Will Tomlinson (23-1-1, 13 KOs) in a fight that will headline a Golden Boy Promotions card at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. It will also be televised by HBO Latino Boxing.

But as clear as Vargas’ destination may be, his origins apparently needed some additional clarification.

Just clear things out, I am not from Tijuana, I was born in Mexico City. That data is wrong,” said Vargas, a 2008 Olympian known as “El Bandido,” after being introduced by his promoter Oscar de la Hoya as a native of Tijuana, Mexico.

With his birthplace established, the 30-year-old Vargas expressed his readiness for the title bout he’s been waiting for his entire career.

I think so, I believe I am ready to fight for the title,” said Vargas, currently ranked No. 7 at 130 pounds by THE RING, when asked about the possibility of this fight being considered a virtual elimination bout to become a mandatory contender for the WBC belt. “But right now I have this fight and I am getting ready to win this fight and be at 100 per cent for it. I am happy for the opportunity, I am doing a great preparation to give you a great fight. I know Will is very hungry and he’s well prepared, and we are getting ready for him.”

It is easy to agree with Vargas and his enthusiasm for a potential title bout within this year, especially after watching him dispose of Genaro Camargo by eighth-round stoppage in his most recent fight last December, a victory that followed a demolition of former two-time world titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in three rounds. But Vargas was promised a title shot as a reward for his efforts after those victories too, and the fight failed to materialize.

Vargas believes this time it will be different.

I believe I have to continue working hard and winning fights in order to put myself up there and to be seen as one of the best in the division,” said Vargas. “First of all, we have this fight and I have to win. … My goal for this year is to become champion, and therefore I am training hard and I train to win. I hope this year I could achieve that goal.”

Though the Tomlinson fight won’t be for a world title (it will be disputed over a 10-round distance with the NABF junior lightweight title at stake), Vargas is taking the challenge with the importance that it truly has.

I’ve seen that Tomlinson is a strong fighter who presses forward and knows how to manage distances, and he is a fast fighter,” said Vargas. “We’ve trained in the mountains, running at high altitudes. We looked for sparring partners that closely mirror the style of Tomlinson. And we put everything into it, in the morning runs and everything else, to be here in great condition.”

An additional and somewhat relevant portion of the training for their clash apparently took place almost a decade ago, when the two fighters had an impromptu sparring session during an amateur tournament in Chicago. It was an event that Tomlinson recalled quite vividly during their joint telephone conference, and which Vargas also seemed to remember.

I remember that we boxed in Chicago; we sparred a few rounds after we finished our training. I knew it was an Australian guy but I didn’t remember it was him. It was a quiet, normal sparring session,” said Vargas, although he failed to remember any weaknesses in Tomlinson’s style from that fortuitous encounter.

His foe, however, seemed to think otherwise, but Vargas seemed confident that Tomlinson will see a completely different fighter in the ring come March 12.

It’s great to hear that he is confident, but I am doing my work and getting ready, working very hard because I know he has a lot to win and nothing to lose. I am very close to fight for the world title and I know I am not supposed to take anyone lightly.”