Wednesday, September 27, 2023  |



Jessie Vargas: I believe beating Keith Thurman would make me pound for pound

Fighters Network

LOS ANGELES — Keith Thurman is preparing for a spring return to the ring after elbow surgery, and it’s likely Jessie Vargas will earn the nod.

That’s been the talk since Vargas ended his own one-year layoff with a December decision victory over journeyman Aaron Herrera.

The Las Vegas-based welterweight recently departed Top Rank and is now linked up with Al Haymon, who controls the elite fighters at 147 pounds besides Terence Crawford.

With Showtime set to announce a slew of fights Thursday in New York, it’s probable one of those unveiled bouts will be Vargas vs. Thurman, THE RING’s No. 1 welterweight who hasn’t competed since a March victory over Danny Garcia.

“Everyone knows that I’m interested in the fight against Keith Thurman because I want the WBC and WBA belt,” Vargas, 28, told “They mean a lot to me, I would like to have them.

“If the fight is made, it would be fireworks for sure, and people would get their money’s worth. … He’s an all-power puncher and I come in with an accumulation of punches between speed and power.”

Vargas (28-2, 10 knockouts) has twice stepped up to the elite of the welterweight division, and both times, he dropped wide decision defeats. But the Timothy Bradley fight easily could have gone Vargas’ way, if not for referee Pat Russell’s errant call to halt the 12th round early seconds after Vargas landed a massive shot that wobbled the champion.

Vargas rebounded with a knockout of Sadam Ali in March 2016, but lost his welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao.

After sharing the ring with those caliber of fighters, Vargas feels ready for a shot at Thurman, who sits just outside THE RING’s pound for pound list, but appears in the top 10 of some other publications.

“If Thurman is considered pound for pound, I hope the only thing that would change (on the list) once I beat him would be that I would be considered a pound-for-pound champion, which is something i’ve wanted for years,” Vargas said.

“This is my time now, I’m getting the credit I actually deserve. Nothing is given, it’s earned.”

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger