On the day after Thanksgiving,
boxing gets leftovers this year. Most belongs in the trash along with the talk
between the combatants.
Ferocious Fernando Vargas, promising his wife and mother this will be his farewell to the ring after getting stopped in his last two appearances by Sugar Shane Mosley, is the 9/5 favorite to shut the big mouth of Ricardo Mayorga, the Nicaraguan who is coming off a knockout loss to Oscar de la Hoya last year.
Vargas has won all of four fights in the last seven years; Mayorga has lost three of his last five appearances in the last four years. But while 2007 may have been a vintage year for good bouts, this matchup of basically no import outside of itself, commands attention.
Mayorga: "If Vargas wants to run like a Little Miss Mayweather, than I am going to get him a pink skirt and pink rollerblades."
Vargas: "He’s a jackass."
Mayorga: "I’m going to knock you out, you fat ass."
Vargas: "You’ve got to understand, I’m more talented because Mayorga is a stupid fighter."
Mayorga: "He’s a coward."
Vargas: "He has a face only a mother gorilla would love."
Mayorga: "This is all about the hormones you have in your body and I have too many men’s hormones and he has some girl hormones."
Vargas: "I’m going to beat the (blank) out of him."
Mayorga: "If he stands in front of me, the fight will last one or two rounds. If he decides to run, it will last maybe five rounds."
If it sounds like fun, be warned that the bout, postponed from Sept. 8 because Vargas was found to have an iron deficiency in his blood, carries a $45 pay-per-view tag. That seems like a lot to pay for a couple of shot fighters.
Oh, there’s an undercard. Kermit Cintron defends his piece of the welterweight title against the ordinary Jose Feliciano, which shouldn’t stay the 50/1 favorite from a partial unification bout early next year against Paul Williams.
And a couple of former 154-pound title holders of no great impact, Roman Karmazin and Alejandro Garcia, will meet.
But the main event, with its promise of an old-fashioned street fight, is what quickly sold a million dollars worth of tickets for the Staples Center in Los Angeles after a July press conference (for the Sept. 8 bout) turned into a brawl with Mayorga even suffering a cut beneath his right eye.
It was Vargas’s blood, however, that caused the postponement in this anemic pay-per-view show. Vargas said he lost about two pints of blood from internal bleeding caused by taking too many aspirins for his chronic back pains. The original bout, set at the catch weight of 162 pounds, was remade for 166 to satisfy his doctors.
Mayorga, a former welterweight champion (he did beat Vernon Forrest twice before being exposed by Cory Spinks), said it doesn’t matter. "Vargas is too fat to keep up with me," he said. "He’s taken way too many shots. He is done."
That’s the key to betting this fight, how much does either guy have left. At their peaks, the bigger Vargas (5-foot-10 with a 74-inch reach to 5-9 and 69) would have been a prohibitive favorite. Laying only 9/5 seems like a bargain, except he was easily battered by Mosley in his last start. Vargas, though, was competitive in the first meeting before an ugly swelling around his left eye necessitated that he stop.
If you go by common opponents, Vargas also has the edge. He gave de la Hoya a much better fight than Mayorga and whereas Felix Trinidad Jr. destroyed the man from Managua, he had some real problems with Vargas. However, in the end, it may be that this 2000 defeat cost the previously undefeated El Feroz his place among boxing’s elite. He never quite recovered from that beating.
Word out of California is that Vargas looks very fit. Pictures show a very cut body. He is back with his original trainer, Eduardo Garcia, but that means little here. I don’t like betting on guys who have one foot out the ring. Vargas said he couldn’t leave the game on those two losses to Mosley. Mayorga says Vargas is not fighting for pride, but for money and will have to continue campaigning. Reportedly, Vargas did well with his money, but who knows.
There is no great compulsion to risk hard-earned rupees on this show. The $45 price for the pay-per-view is about as much as I want to spend for an alternative to watching endless football and eating bottomless pitchers of cranberry sauce.