It was a horrible year for the economy in 2008 with hedge funds and other get rich quick schemes nearly taking down America's financial apparatus.
At nearly the same time a kid from Las Vegas named Jessie Vargas emerged from the financial rubble and was making his Southern California professional debut against a 30-year-old from Nebraska. From the moment the first bell rang you could see something special.
It was obvious that Vargas (24-0, 9 Kos) would win a world title and now he's making his first defense of the WBA junior welterweight belt against Russia's undefeated Anton Novikov (29-0, 10 Kos) at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Saturday Aug. 2. HBO will televise.
“When I was young I said I was going to win a world title before I'm 25,” Vargas said. “I'm 25 now.”
Once again Vargas fights an undefeated opponent in Novikov. He's also a dreaded southpaw.
“There are fighters that won't fight lefties, I'll fight anyone,” said Vargas to our website affiliate Boxingchannel.tv.
Back in 2008, Vargas made his California debut against a taller and heavier looking opponent from Nebraska named Trenton Titsworth. Behind his tight defensive guard Vargas controlled the four-round fight quickly and soon the Nebraskan knew he was out-classed. He resorted to fooling around including planting a kiss on Vargas. The Las Vegas fighter exploded in anger and was deducted a point. It was a great lesson to expect the unexpected. From then on it was all about control.
Last April at the MGM Grand, Vargas defeated a very tough and awkward southpaw from Russia named Khabib Allakhverdiev to win the world title by decision. Now he's fighting yet another southpaw.
“Like I told my manager: put him in front of me and I'll take care of him,” Vargas said. “Not to sound cocky, but I'm a fighter. We don't pick and choose. I'm a world champion.”
On the other side of the coin Novikov has traveled to Las Vegas to finally get his chance. But first let him gulp at the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip.
“This is my first fight in Las Vegas let alone visiting Las Vegas. It's like a fantasy or a movie,” said Novikov who was born and still lives in Kopeysk, a town located just north of Kazakhstan. “It's everything that I've seen in the movies so now it's really a dream come true.”
Novikov may be dazzled by the Las Vegas lights but he's adamant that a world title is his ultimate goal.
“This is everything. This is my future. This is something that I've come for since my childhood. Basically it's a dream come true. This fight means everything,” said Novikov.
Vargas has already defeated one undefeated Russian southpaw. Can he do it again?
“I've fought several undefeated fighters before and I took their undefeated records. Mine is still intact. You have to believe in yourself and do that,” said Vargas.
Whether the economy tanks again or not, a world title never devalues.