WBC junior featherweight titlist Rey Vargas. Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig
WBC junior featherweight titlist Rey Vargas will make the fifth defense of his title next Saturday when he faces former WBO bantamweight titleholder Tomoki Kameda on the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly known as StubHub Center) in Carson, California, streaming live on DAZN.
Vargas and Kameda have some history with one another when the pair met as teens in Mexico in the unpaid ranks. Back then Vargas got the better of that contest. Kameda, originally from Tokyo, moved to Mexico at the age of 15 to learn and compete with top talent.
“That was a long, long time ago and we have both moved on and taken different paths in our careers,” Vargas reflects by phone in his native Spanish as he puts the finishing touches on his training camp. “I remember (Kameda) being a tough fighter who moved a lot. It was a good fight and this will be a good fight again. I beat him before and I will win again next week. I changed my style a lot since then, so he will be in for a tough night.”
Vargas (33-0, 22 knockouts) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Franklin Manzanilla last February in a foul-filled bout which saw Vargas rising from a knockdown in the second round to come back and pick up the win.
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“I have to say my last two fights have been very uncomfortable for me,” Vargas said. “I fought guys who wanted to win but when they see there is no way for them to win, they resort to doing whatever they can including kicking me, biting me and holding me. It’s given me good experience to know how to manage these guys better going forward. Thanks to my training, we continue to advance and continue to win and we will do the same next week.”
In February of 2017, Vargas traveled to Hull, England, to defeat then unbeaten Gavin McDonnell at the Ice Arena by majority decision to win the vacant WBC belt. McDonnell’s promoter Eddie Hearn said, at the time, one of the reasons they selected the Ice Arena because it was very challenging for outsiders to fight there. However Vargas proved to be immune to the pressure of fighting in enemy territory. Vargas brought a weapon of his own into the arena that night – famed trainer Nacho Beristain who was in his corner for the first time. Beristain had previously guided Oscar De La Hoya and Juan Manuel Marquez to world titles.
“Nacho brought a lot of experience to me when I needed it the most,” Vargas said. “It’s the little adjustments we made, which has made large differences. He taught me how to manage my opponents better and if you look at my fights we have been doing that. Aside from the technical aspects in the ring, we work a lot of the small, finer details outside the ring, which have sharpened my skills and makes me very difficult to defeat.”
In Vargas’ first defense, six months later, he defeated Ronny Rios at the then-StubHub Center.
“There is a lot of history in that building,” Vargas said. “That’s where Jhonny Gonzalez knocked out Abner Mares. So many big fights have been fought there. It’s an honor to come back there and to fight on DAZN, where I can showcase myself to boxing fans all over the world.”
Vargas is careful to not look past Kameda (36-2, 20 KOs) but he is hungry for a unification bout with one of the other beltholders in the 122-pound division before moving up 126 pounds.
“I have asked for the biggest fights,” Vargas proclaims. “We are ready to fight the best and win defeat all the champions. God willing, if I still have the belt after next week, we will get to fight another champion. My plan is to unify the division and then we will consider moving up to featherweight and doing it again.”
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