Fresh off his first world title, Josue Vargas sat down with Boxing Insider radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Boxinginsider.com, to discuss what it felt like to bring home the IBF North American title and his future plans.
When you’ve been given the nickname “The Prodigy” you immediately deal with pressure from the boxing public. Such is the case for Josue Vargas.
At 21 years of age, Vargas is still in the infancy stages of his career. Yet this past Saturday night on December 14th, at Madison Square Garden, Vargas took a huge step forward in his career by defeating Noel Murphy and taking home the vacant IBF North American Super Lightweight world title.
The punches that Vargas swarmed Murphy with on the night were nothing in comparison to the swarming fans who congratulated him after his victory.
“It feels great, I feel excited,” said Vargas on Boxing Insider Radio. “It’s just the beginning. This is my first title as a professional fighter so it means a lot to me and my family.”
The IBF North American title is viewed as a smaller trinket in the world of boxing. A stepping stone, if you will. No big name fighter values this belt, but no other fighter who has worked their way to the top of their respective division has gone on to become a legitimate world champion without it either.
It’s a process. Unless your name is Vasiliy Lomachenko, who won his first world title in his third professional contest, just about every fighter goes through these steps.
Before Vargas nabbed his first world title, he was considered nothing more than a prospect. A fighter with promise and one that many of us had to keep an eye on. From there, it was up to him to grab our attention even more. Through 17 professional contests he has won 16 of them, but truthfully, he won every single fight of his career.
In the 7th contest of his career, Vargas was dominating against Samuel Santana. He was clearly on his way to victory, until he was called for an illegal blow during the break and was subsequently given the loss via disqualification because of it.
If you want to call that a loss, then fine. Technically, you would be right. But anyone who has seen the contest knows that he should have a spotless record. Nevertheless, Vargas hasn’t lost a fight since, and can now call himself a world champion. By no means was it easy, but it was certainly worth it.
“I have a lot of respect for Murphy. He came ready to fight and in shape but as you can see in the later rounds he just couldn’t hang with me anymore. I was just too much for him. The more rounds it goes the stronger I get.”
Up until this point in his career, everything had come easy for him. Whenever Vargas is seen outside of the ring, he always flashes a bright smile from ear to ear. Whether you seen him after a boxing match or simply on his way to the store, he always looked the same. The reason behind that is his opponents could seldom ever touch him in the ring. He was simply too slick. In his contest against Murphy however, that just wasn’t the case.
“In the beginning of the rounds it was a bit of a chess match. But in the 4th round my dad started yelling at me so that’s when I decided I’m just going to bring it to him because he had nothing left in the tank. I said to myself that I’m going to walk him down and not respect him. If I would’ve started the way that I did in the second half of the fight, it would’ve been a stoppage in the sixth or seventh round.”
Vargas might be sporting a black eye now, but he also sports a championship belt around his waist as well.
There is often times a chain reaction whenever a fighter captures championship gold, he wants more and more. He’ll get exactly that and a full schedule of fights in 2020.
“It’s going to be a busy, busy, busy 2020. They are going to have me fighting March 14th, again at MSG defending the title and adding another title on top of that so they’ll be two titles on the line.”
Becoming overzealous is something that trainers and promoters would like to stop their fighters from becoming. Vargas is clearly on the fast track to stardom, but don’t tell him that he is moving too quickly.
The 140 pound division is lined up with killers from top to bottom, but Vargas views himself in the same vein as the other top dogs in the division. The picture of Vargas can be viewed if you ever looked up the word confident in the dictionary, because according to him he’s ready for whomever is placed in front of him, including the elite at 140.
“Styles make fights and everybody has a different style and fights different. I’ve been in the ring with Jose Ramirez. We’ve sparred over 40 rounds because I was his sparring partner in Cali. So I know how that would be. He’s undefeated and the WBC and WBO champion for a reason, he’s been doing a great job so I give him a lot of respect. I think that would be a great fight. I’ve been in the ring with all of these world champions like Floyd Mayweather, Gervonta Davis, Mikey Garcia so none of these guys put fear in my heart. I feel like I can give them a great fight and even take the title from them. I think I will fight for a world title in early 2021.”
A title shot could very well be in the future of Vargas, but not immediately. For now, he plans on continuing his winning ways in 2020.
It almost doesn’t make any sense that a fighter who has only just recently been given the green light to drink alcohol, to possess such sublime boxing skills. His work ethic and natural talent should has always been apparent, but if it was not for his trainer Jose Guzman, none of this would be possible.
“I call him my brother. I watched him growing up and training and going to his professional fights, to him now working my corner and being in my corner and doing the mitts with me. Giving me instructions and guiding me the right way. Every time before the weigh ins, he makes sure I don’t eat any candy or drink any soda,” said Vargas while chuckling. “You got to have somebody like that on your team who will watch you 24/7 because he knows boxing and he’s been there and done that so you got to have people like that on your team.”
Adding to his already impressive team is one of the very best trainers in the world in Andre Rozier. His work with world champions should give an indication of the career trajectory of Vargas.
“It means everything,” said Vargas of Rozier joining his corner. “He had Danny Jacobs and on that night he had Richard Commey so he’s another guy who has a lot of experience training world champions. For him to be in my corner and giving me the right instructions as well it just means everything to me. And of course, you have my father who is always hyping me up and making sure that I step on the gas and take my opponents out of there.”
All of the pieces are in place for Vargas, but he does have a few questions surrounding him and his ability to compete at an elite level. The skills are there, but he has more to prove going forward.