Vargas’ Career Finale Postponed

By Francis Walker
Updated: August 27, 2007

NEW YORK — Fernando Vargas’ highly anticipated grudge match with Ricardo Mayorga has been postponed indefinitely. A routine blood test revealed that Vargas has severe iron deficiency.

“Vargas vs. Mayorga: The Brawl,” was scheduled to occur on September 8, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. $1 million dollars of tickets were sold, as SHOWTIME would have distributed the event on Pay-TV at a suggested retail of $44.95.

Vargas’ bout with Mayorga was supposed to have been the final of his career. The 29 year-old Vargas was once recognized as one of boxing’s prized prospects. A former Olympian in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and a two-time world champion, Vargas’ career has had plenty of highs and a few lows. Overall, he had a good career. Vargas did well for himself and his family, while giving his all.

“I am definitely, absolutely 110 percent ready to end my boxing career,” Vargas said during a recent conference call. “But I’m going to miss my ring bell. I’m going to miss when they call my name when they’re introducing me. (I am going to miss) them taking about what I’ve done in boxing, my titles, etc. But I’m going to soak it in real good for this last fight. So that’s something I’ll definitely miss.”

In December 1997, Vargas became the youngest fighter in history to win a junior welterweight championship. Vargas, five days after his 21st birthday, dominated Yori Boy Campus. Campus, with a record of 72-2 and 8 more years of professional experience, was forced to quit on his stool to a fighter appearing in only his 15th pro bout.

“I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever wanted to accomplish,” Vargas said. “I was the youngest fighter to ever beat Yori Boy Campus with a record of 72-2; the youngest to win a junior middleweight title. I became two-time junior middleweight champion when I beat Shibata Flores.”

After the Campus fight, Vargas’ career took off. His first title defense occurred in March 1999 at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the infamous 12-round draw between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield. Vargas stopped Howard Clarke (KO 4).

Vargas would have other memorable fights. He fought a 12-round war with former WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey (W 12) in April 2000 after winning a very close 12-round majority decision against Winky Wright (W 12) the previous year. Some believe that Wright should have been awarded the decision. Vargas was also dominant in KO victories against Raul Marquez (TKO 11) and Ross Thompson (TKO 4).

“I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in boxing,” Vargas added. “I made a lot of money and I still have my faculties and I still have my family. Everything is fine with me. My health is fine. I did everything I wanted to do in boxing.”

Vargas, overall, successfully defended the IBF junior middleweight title five times before losing it in an IBF/WBA unification bout with WBA to Felix Trinidad in December 2000. Vargas, looking for an early knockout, was floored twice in the first round before being dropped twice more in the final round of a very exciting fight.

Trinidad stopped Vargas late in the twelfth round. After beating two-time world title challenger Wilfredo Rivera, Vargas would beat Shibata Flores for the vacant WBA junior middleweight title in September 2001.

Despite Vargas’ in-ring success, he was never the same after the Trinidad fight. Injuries and controversy would soon begin to plague Vargas throughout his career. After suffering an eleventh round stoppage loss to Oscar De La Hoya in September 2002, an unusually muscular-looking Vargas tested positive for steroids.

Although Vargas won his next four bouts against Fitz Vanderpool (TKO 6), Tony Marshall (TKO 7), Raymond Joval (W 10), and Francisco Javier Castillejo (W 10), Vargas was inactive from 2003-05 after suffering a career-threatening back in injury.

Vargas realized that it was time to hang up his gloves after suffering a pair of consecutive knockout losses to Sugar Shane Mosley in 2006. The beating that Vargas took and the years of straining to make weight finally caught up with him.

“I take nothing away from Mosley, a great, talented, intelligent fighter,” Vargas said. “But I mean getting down to 154 pounds, I couldn’t do that. That’s not me. I went to the Olympics at 147. Then shortly after that, I moved to 154. I was 18 when I went to the Olympics and 21 when I won the world title. I’ve been staying that way for 10 years. I can’t do that.”

Vargas added that he “couldn’t go out” the way he did when he lost to Mosley. Vargas added: “I’m a born winner. Anyone that’s a competitor like I am, hate to lose. I hate to lose in checkers. That’s why I don’t play.”

Vargas had hopes to end his career with a thrilling performance against an aggressive, trash talking fighter in Mayorga. When the two were in Los Angeles to announce their bout, Mayorga made remarks about Vargas’ wife and family before taking a swipe across his head at the podium. The incident led to a brawl in which both fighters viciously attacked one another. Vargas has since promised punishment.

“He’s a stupid fighter,” Vargas said. “I can be stronger, but I’m not going to be crazy. I’m going to fight intelligent and I’m going to make him make a mistake.”

Mayorga is a former WBA/WBC welterweight champion and former WBC junior middleweight champion. However, Mayorga has been knocked out by De La Hoya, Trinidad, and dropped a decision to Cory Spinks a couple years ago.