By Jackie Kallen
Like many boxing fans, I am wondering whether Jess Vargas is the next Floyd Mayweather. He is a 23 year-old, undefeated welterweight who was trained by Roger Mayweather as an amateur and has grown up around “Money” since Jesse was eight years old. After signing with Mayweather Promotions when he turned pro, he recently moved over to Top Rank under the management of Cameron Dunkin.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
Of course Vargas claims the move was nothing personal, just “good business”, but that is typical in the boxing world. Loyalty is not a common commodity and fighters switch trainers, managers, and promoters as often as Lady Gaga changes clothes.
He headlines a show Thursday night at the Hard Rock Casino in Vegas against tough Aaron Martinez. Though he is already 30 years old, Martinez is a wily opponent who hasn’t lost a fight since he dropped a decision to Abdon Lozano in 2008.
With over 150 amateur fights under his belt, it was obvious from his pro debut in 2008 that Vargas was destined for big things. He immediately started racking up the wins and has knocked out almost half of his opponents. I first saw him fight in 2010, when he beat Ernesto Zavala at the Club Nokia in LA. It was an impressive win with Zavala going down in the first round.
Last year was a great year for Vargas. He beat journeyman Vivian Harris with ease in the first round. He went on to beat Josesito Lopez last September in Vegas, despite having a point deducted for low blows. That was a terrific win and he came back five months later and disposed of Lanardo Tyner by a wide margin.
He also took Steve Forbes apart in May at the MGM Grand. It has gotten to the point where few fighters want to get into the ring against him. I have to hand it to Martinez. With his 18-1 record, he seems unconcerned about all the hype surrounding Vargas. Though he has only KOed nine of his opponents and is not considered to be a threatening banger, he feels confident that he can be the man to beat Vargas. The oddsmakers do not agree. They have him as a 12-1 underdog.
It is these young turks like Vargas and Alvarez who can bring back the excitement to our sport. The days of B-Hop and Tarver and Jermain Taylor are behind us. In order for boxing to put bodies back in the seats, we need these young, undefeated heroes. There are so many great names for Vargas to face: Paulie M, Randall Bailey, Kevin Holt, Devon Alexander.
I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for these guys. And add Chavez, jr. and Josesito Lopez to the list of names to watch. Boxing can make a big comeback if these guys turn out to be the Sugar Ray Leonards and Thomas Hearns of their era. One can only hope.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen