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JESSIE VARGAS: NEW WEIGHT CLASS, SAME MISSION

By Dominic Hadi – @domhadi (Instagram)

A draw in boxing can be a frustrating outcome for fans and fighters. However for former two-weight world champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-2) he faces the challenge of coming off back to back draws when he steps in to the ring this Saturday in California. He does so at a brand new weight class for the Nevada based fighter.

The 29-year-old claimed his first world title when still undefeated at 23-0 going in to his showdown with Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-2) in 2014 where Vargas claimed the WBA (Regular) and IBO Super Lightweight titles via unanimous decision. Vargas then followed this up by defending the WBA strap twice in 2014 before taking the decision to go up a weight class and challenge for welterweight gold in 2015.

The initial Challenge came in the form of Timothy Bradley (33-2-1-1NC) who at the time of that fight was ranked in the top 5 of The Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound list. It was a big test to welcome Vargas to the 147 lbs division and Bradley was the better fighter on the night taking the WBO (interim) belt and Vargas’s undefeated record to boot.

This didn’t derail Vargas’s quest to be a two division champion and in his very next fight he defeated Sadam Ali (27-2) on March 5th 2016 for the undisputed WBO Welterweight Title only 9 months out from his interim title loss. After that type of lay-off for a young fighter, Vargas decided to defend his new belt later the same year against a true legend of the sport Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2) with a guaranteed purse of $2.8 million for Vargas (the highest of his career to date).

Once again Vargas was unable to rise to the occasion and suffered another unanimous secision loss to the Filipino finisher, ending his title reign at the first defence. Since dropping the title Jessie Vargas has gone 1-0-2 with the two consecutive draws coming against the polarising Adrien Broner (33-3-1) and former Mayweather Promotions fighter Thomas Dulorme (24-3) – the first fight for Vargas as a Matchroom Boxing fighter.

The Dulorme fight was one round from going Vargas’s way and earning him the WBC Silver Welterwight belt. A late flurry from the Puerto Rican Dulorme, though, resulted in Vargas’s glove touching the canvas. Although a very close fight, a majority draw, Vargas has made the decision to change his plans once again by fighting at a career high of super welterweight. This chapter begins in California this Saturday on the card headlined by Rungvisai vs Estrada rematch for the WBC and Ring Magazine Super-Flyweight belts.

For his inaugural bout in the 154 lbs division Vargas will be coming up against an opponent with an impressive 81 pro fights as Humberto Soto (69-9-1-1NC) also makes his super welterweight debut making it his seventh weight class as a professional. Previously a two-weight world champion (super featherweight and lightweight) himself, Soto is making a quick return to action following his 12 round UD victory in February over Brandon Rios (35-5-1). Clearly Soto is seeing a big opportunity to go up once again and take on the entertaining and popular Vargas in what is set to be a big test for both men who will each need to win convincingly to show they belong in this division.

For the full fight card click here

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