Fernando Vargas returns to Los Angeles and he’s bringing his horde of fans along like a modern day Attila the Hun.
When Vargas enters the Staples Center on Friday to face Nicaragua’s Ricardo Mayorga, expect a large rowdy contingent of rascals, vandals and misanthropes similar to those that attend an Oakland Raiders game.
It’s the same kind of fanatic.
Actually the modern Raider fan evolved from the Los Angeles area, not the Oakland area. It wasn’t until the Raiders moved to urban streets of L.A. that the NFL outlaw team garnered this nationwide network of thug supporters. Wherever you go a person has a Raider cap, t-shirt or emblem pasted on the back of his car or truck. It represents a code of the street.
Vargas represents the street too.
Ever since the Oxnard boxer emerged on the professional scene with his tough talk, cocky walk and snarling smile, Vargas has become the anti-Oscar De La Hoya to those boxing fans who dislike the clean-cut image the Golden Boy possesses.
Vargas fans don’t like clean.
From the beginning Vargas influenced the common guy and gal on the street with his partially shaved head with just the front portion of his head bearing bleached hair. It ignited a throng of imitators in and out of the boxing world.
It’s no wonder Vargas has a clothing line. He’s got a style of his own.
The fighter known as “El Feroz” also has a way with words that few others can imitate. Whenever he’s asked to participate on a radio show the phone lines light up with people wanting to talk to him. Even the radio announcers give him room. His street charisma is infectious.
But now it’s down to business.
The Aztec warrior will walk into the ring with a large crowd shouting his name and cheering him on. It will be his world of followers who will come from all parts of the Southwest and beyond. They love his macho talk and will literally fight with opposing fans who dis their hero.
It’s a dangerous world for Vargas because those who talk the talk are forced to abide by its unwritten rules that include all-out war against the near-crazy Nicaraguan strongman Mayorga.
Vargas could easily out-box Mayorga but he’s backed himself into a corner by proclaiming he will stand in the middle of the ring and trade nuclear warheads with “El Matador.”
Despite what experts and fans say about Mayorga, the Central American refugee from a psychiatric asylum can still knock down an elephant with that right hand of his. He can drop a rhinoceros with that left hand too.
People like to say that he was brutalized by Felix Trinidad when they fought and pummeled by De La Hoya in that fight. But they also forget he floored Trinidad in their encounter and caught De La Hoya too. It’s just that the East L.A. fighter has one of the better chins in the business.
Mayorga is a puncher’s puncher.
From the beginning Vargas has vowed to retire from boxing after this fight. He just wanted to go out with a win, not the loss by knockout he suffered against Pomona’s Shane Mosley.
“I promise. This will be my last fight,” said Vargas (26-4, 22 KOs) who turns 30 a week after the fight. A first scheduled fight was postponed on Sept. 8 when Vargas was ordered by a doctor to cancel the fight due to anemia.
Unknown to many, Mayorga is a clever and calculating fighter who has the ability to self-promote a fight and prod an opponent into his kind of battle.
“That clown is going to run,” says Mayorga, hoping to lure Vargas into a toe-to-toe slugfest that favors the Nicaraguan. “This all about the hormones. I have many men hormones and he has too many girl hormones in his body.”
Mayorga can sense Vargas’s vulnerability to taunts and challenges. It brings out an evil-like smile to his face.
“No matter how many pounds you weigh I’m going to knock you out fatty,” says Mayorga regarding the pre-fight agreement to fight at 166 pounds. “It’s shameful that I have to keep changing my weight from 162 to 166. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to knock him out.”
Whenever the two get in the same room, you can see the color on their face turn a blood red. They’re natural enemies like a cobra and a mongoose.
“Vargas is a homosexual,” Mayorga says. “I suggest Vargas buy a big truck of eggs.”
The Nicaraguan also says delivered the most telling verbal blow when he suggested that Vargas is not a typical Mexican fighter.
“Mexicans are warriors,” said Mayorga. “Vargas has woman hormones.”
The big question remains if Vargas can tune out the disparages slung his way, especially when he has an arena filled with rowdy Vargas fans urging him to knock out Mayorga.
“I thank God for my fans,” said Vargas. “It’s not about money, it’s about pride.”
The fight card will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.