AN ice rink in Hull in bleak mid-winter’s a far cry from the state of Mexico but Rey Vargas made it home for the night and claimed the vacant WBC super-bantamweight title on Saturday thanks to an impressive performance against Gavin McDonnell.
Vargas was terrific but my first impressions of him, at the open workout three days before the fight, were underwhelming. I’d watched the 26-year-old on YouTube and could barely believe it was the same person. He was painfully thin and as he stood at the side of the ring in Hull’s Princes Quay shopping centre sporting a pair of Clark Kent style specs, he looked the least like a fighter of any fighter I’d ever seen.
One thing I’d been suspicious about was his height. The stats put him at 5ft 7.5in but he looked taller. It’s hard to tell for sure though because unless you go down the unusual route of actually asking to measure a person then you need a point of reference. I know how tall I am so I thought I might as well use myself and wandered over to shake his hand, doing so for as long as I could whilst standing as close to him as I could before the whole scenario threatened to push the boundaries of socially acceptable behaviour too far. He was only a bit shorter than me so once the very thick soled trainers he was wearing were taken into account I reckoned 5ft 9in, which is taller than Gavin McDonnell.