JESSIE VARGAS, the Las Vegas-based WBO welterweight champion in negotiations for a unification showdown with Kell Brook, admits that he would be concerned about getting a fair decision if the bout is staged, as expected, in the UK.
“I’m a defending champion as well but he would be fighting in his hometown,” Vargas explained. “I only ask is that I get a fair decision. He was treated with a lot of fairness when he came to the US [and defeated Shawn Porter to win the IBF title via close decision in 2014] and I would expect the same when I go to England. I know it is not my hometown but we gave him respect when he came on our turf. All I deserve and want is the same respect in return.”
Vargas, 27, defeated Sadam Ali to win the vacant WBO belt in March but believes this would be the biggest win of his career, and certainly bigger than anything Brook has achieved – including that victory over Porter.
“It would be much bigger because it is a unification fight,” he said. “I know people in England are big boxing fans and would respect a unification fight. When it comes to two different champions from two difference countries, who come to fight and they come to give the fans what they want then they respect it all that much more. If the fight was to happen in England I would come with the mentality to entertain the fans. I’m just hoping that in return for that I would get a fair fight and what I mean by that is fair judging.”
The former WBA super-lightweight champion has been on the wrong end of controversy before. In June last year he was a big underdog against Timothy Bradley, and after being outboxed for much of the contest, he caught and staggered his rival in the last. With Bradley in serious trouble, the referee pulled the fighters apart. Vargas thought Pat Russell was stopping the fight in his favour, but the official thought the final bell had gone. In fact, there was still seven seconds left and Vargas’ bid was wrongly curtailed.
“I knocked him out,” Vargas recalled about the fiasco. “I had him knocked out in the last round. They stole those last 10 seconds away from me. Everyone in the stadium celebrated with me. Imagine a stadium in England that everyone is celebrating because you won then two minutes later they’re like, ‘Oh no I thought I heard the bell’ but there are still 10 seconds remaining so the fight is over anyways. I know what I did, I know that I hurt him.
“It didn’t break me. He [Bradley] should be the one that feels bad. He was hurt, he was out of it. He said it himself that he had never been rocked that hard, he had never been hit that hard in his career. Right after the fight, he got a concussion not me. I don’t have anything to look back it.We move forward and look stronger. We won’t wait until the 12th round next time. I made that a fact. All I can do is just come back stronger.”
Outside of the ring, Vargas spends a lot of his time helping youth charities.
“I concentrate a lot of my time with the youth here in Nevada and the US,” Vargas explained. “Any way I can help. If I can see something that will benefit them I will try get in and get involved, go to hospitals and try to help a kid who isn’t having a good day and for the time I’m there let him have a good time. We know they are our future and try to give them examples and show them how I went to succeed and in my life and career. Not only that but making a dream a reality, how everything is possible. They believe if anyone tells them if they can’t do something or dreams can’t come true. They need someone like me who was able to achieve their dreams and tell them that is not right and it is not true. It is possible. Anything is possible, you just have to work hard for it. Anyone that has had a little or lot of success knows it is not easy. You just have to stay focused, you can’t be mentally weak, you just have to be mentally strong and not let anyone tell you different than what you want to accomplish.”
And for Vargas, what he wants to accomplish – at least for now – is victory over Kell Brook.
“Without a doubt. Yes. Win every round and don’t leave it up to the judges. Win every round, win every second and stay in control.”