A glaring sign of maturity occurs when one realizes that defeats will occur in life and rather than being grounds for capitulation or depression, they are quite often useful building blocks for growth.
That's I think where Jessie Vargas (age 26; now 26-1 with 9 KOs) is right now…
You recall that he got handled pretty good by Tim Bradley, the sawed off volume brawler/boxer who impressed mightily when they tangled on June 27, in California.
Until the 12th round, the almost fateful 12th, which saw the younger, unbeaten boxer land a brain-rattler right, and Bradley get spaghetti legged from it. But a chance to follow up was lost when ref Pat Russell mistook the ten second alert for the bell signifying the end of the round. That, yes, still sticks in the craw of Vargas.
So, JV, what were your top takeaways from that bout? “Start off early,” he told me. “That would be it.”
Right…what he did in the twelfth, that mindset, get into that from the get go…
And, um, why wasn't that there earlier? “I don't know,” he admitted. “I just wasn't letting my right go. My corner asked me for it. (Erik Morales was his chief second.) It was a mistake on my part. But, look what I did just with my left! It was a competitive fight even though I didn't let my hands go enough. I will definitely come back stronger. It was a great experience. Tim Bradley is such a high caliber fighter. And I nearly knocked him out. I know my potential is sky high.”
But he wasn't able to close the show..and it pains him. So, has he watched it? “I watched it a few times. But the ending, there's no staying away from it. It was a wrong call by the ref. Any way you look at it, he was wrong. He robbed me of an opportunity to put Bradley on the canvas.”
Is he ANGRY at Russell? Vargas pauses… “I'm not angry at him, it's just frustration. You lose a competition, I'm OK with it, but an opportunity was stolen from me, to win by KO. But I am staying positive. I can come back stronger. I want to look forward, but I know that in a fight, every second counts.”
There was no technical dissection from Vargas on how he landed that right; more so, he told me it landed because of his intent, to land something nasty. “I knew the fight could go either way. I was looking for something crucial.”
Bradley in the ring after said he was open to a rematch, then at the presser changed his tune. What did Vargas think of that? “He said after I was a great champion. And then on the rematch, he gave me his word. At the presser he changes it…I hope he's a man of honor!”
Vargas said he would soon be meeting with his team to discuss options for next. If he can't get Bradley again, he isn't into Plan B. “I'm focused on that. We filed a petition to the athletic commission,” he said, and his team also asked the WBO to weigh in and see it from the Vargas perspective.
Team Vargas contends that the rules call for a three minute round. The final round was cut short early, thus the rules were broken, thus a No Contest would be appropriate. They are hoping the Cali commission rules on the issue by the end of August and then maybe the WBO will note the decision, and if it is kind to Vargas, perhaps factor that it in, in regards to the WBO interim 140 crown Bradley snagged when his hand was raised.