In the near future, another boxer will once again prove that it’s hard to stay outside the ring after hanging up the gloves. Over two years of staying away from the squared circle, former Olympian and two-time light middleweight champion Fernando Vargas announced his intentions to once again step into the ring in 2010.
But is this a good idea to begin with?
The 31-year-old pugilist Mexican-American boasts of 22 victories, including those over former world champions Raul Marquez, Ike Quartey, and Winky Wright. His five defeats came from the hands of boxing’s top caliber fighters, Felix Trinidad, Oscar de la Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Ricardo Mayorga. He lost to Mosley twice.
Back to the question, perhaps it is better said if asked this way: “Is Vargas fit to fight again?”
From an avid follower of the Sweet Science, it is best that Vargas remains retired, and for a number of reasons at that.
First, he is no longer in his prime. Vargas has grown old and so are his skills, or what has left of it. His last fight, which ended in a loss to Mayorga, showed how Vargas declined in the later part of his career. Decked by Mayorga once in the rounds one and 11, Vargas was never really n the fight, save for a few moments of spurts.
Second, his injuries will punish him severely if he decides to go on with his decision to lace those gloves once more. On December 12, 2003, Vargas fought and dispatched an unknown Tony Marshall in seven rounds, but also injured a disc in his back.
Against doctor’s recommendation, Vargas went on to self rehabilitate his disc rather than have a surgery. As a result, Vargas was inactive for nearly two years.
Thirds, his last three fights, all defeats, showed he struggles against elite boxers. While he successfully orchestrated his comeback in 2005 with convincing wins against quality opposition, Ray Joval of the Netherlands and Javier Castillejo of Spain, both via unanimous decision, they were still not as good as his next opponents.
The following year marked which should have been Vargas’ last dance, two bouts with Sugar Shane Mosley.
On February 25, 2006, Vargas faced Mosley for the first time in a tight seesaw struggle. However, Mosley’s punches began to take their toll on Vargas’ right eye. It was swollen to the pulp.
In the tenth round, referee Joe Cortez halted the bout and awarded the TKO victory to Mosley, stating that Vargas’s right eye was swollen shut he could no longer defend himself against Mosley’s right-hand punches. The doctor of the bout also supported Cortez’ decision.
Five months later, they once again squared for their rematch. This time, Mosley won in six rounds, totally dominating and later on downed Vargas via a left hook to the body. Although Vargas beat the count, he was completely disoriented that he was not able to defend himself against Mosley’s next flurries. Preventing further injury to Vargas, referee Kenny Bayless stepped in and called a halt to the bout at 2:38 mark in the sixth round.
Two years after the loss to Mayorga, Vargas called out Hector Camacho, Jr., for a bout in 2010. His wife already expressed her disapproval, some boxing experts also voiced reservations, and this writer says Vargas’ career has seen better days. But why fight again?
It is certainly not about the money. Vargas has his own clothing line and also appears in the movies. In fact, he even founded the Ferocious Foundation for Kids as his means to give back to the community.
Perhaps it’s that fighter mentality wherein a boxer needs to stay in the ring to feel alive. Or maybe it is another attempt to reconfigure his career’s end. A personal quest of his? Only Vargas knows.
But one thing is certain, despite strong objections for Vargas to fight again, one cannot help but admire the man, consciously or subconsciously. It may look like foolhard stupidity to most, but a fighter like Vargas, sometimes you have to admit they are quite a find.