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29th February 2020
By: Michael Frank
The boxing world was surprised over the weekend watching the outcome of the highly anticipated Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder fight. In the meantime, two other notable fighters waited in the wings for their next big shot. The fight that no one is talking about is a matchup of two fighters against each other on Saturday, February 29th. Mikey Garcia and Jessie Vargas will match up at 147 lbs. for a 12 round welterweight bout at the Ford Center within The Star in Frisco,Texas. The Star is the home of the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, with owner and boxing enthusiast Jerry Jones, who is expected to be in attendance. The fight can be viewed in North America on DAZN and in the UK on Sky Sports.
Both Garcia and Vargas look forward to returning to the ring from being off nearly a year. Garcia (39-1) is coming off the first loss of his career via a 12-round unanimous decision in favor of Errol Spence Jr. on March 16th, 2019. In the other corner, Vargas (29-2-2) is coming off a 6th round TKO victory over Humberto Soto on April 26th, 2019. The three losses between the two fighters include the legend Manny Pacquiao, the unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and the five time title holder Timothy Bradley Jr.. Fans will enjoy a fast-paced fight from beginning to end with each fighter keeping the excitement level at a maximum.
Reach- 68 In
Mikey Garcia comes into Saturday’s fight as the favorite. This will be his 11th fight in Texas, which should generate some home field advantage. Garcia started his professional career going 39-0 with an impressive 30 KO’s. He has won titles in four different weight classes- 126, 130, 135, and 140- joining the company of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only boxers in history to do so.
After a vehement start to his career, 2013 proved to be a breakout year for Mikey. The first of three dominating victories that year saw Garcia claiming the WBO featherweight title over Orlando Salido at Madison Square Garden. He followed that up with a fourth round TKO over Juan Manuel Lopez at American Airlines Center in Dallas. To finish off the busy year, Garcia landed a KO in round 8 against Roman Martinez to claim the WBO light junior weight title. His next big prime time matchup came against Dejan Zlatičanin on January 28th, 2017 at MGM in Las Vegas. Garcia won the WBC lightweight title with a brutal 3rd round knockout. The massive right hand left Zlatičanin unconscious on the canvas for a few minutes, and was subsequently nominated for knockout of the year. He then went on to rattle off two unanimous decision victories over Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets in 2018. While Broner accused him of playing cat-and-mouse, Garcia clearly outpaced his opponents with his active approach. His last victory came on July 28th, 2018 against Robert Easter Jr., unifying his WBC and IBF lightweight championships. With dominance, he out-landed Easter 95-34 on punches en route to yet another 12-round unanimous decision. After the fight, Garcia called out Errol Spence Jr., who was sitting ringside at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Spence Jr. ultimately accepted the challenge the following March. Garcia was dominated throughout the 12 round unanimous decision, failing to win a single round on all three scorecards. His gamble of jumping two weight divisions proved to be too much for the courageous fighter.
At the age of 32, the light at the end of the tunnel is inching closer, but Garcia has the speed and power to contend with the best of them. This fight will dictate which direction his career is headed: a victory puts his name back on the list of top contenders, while a loss could kickstart the downfall of his career. This is his last chance to prove he can compete at 147.
Reach- 71 In
Vargas heads into Saturdays fight as the underdog with a chip on his shoulder. His five inch height advantage should help him dictate the pace of the fight. His conditioning is going to to be an important facet of the bout, as Vargas has shown signs of slowing down in the later rounds.
After a 24-0 start to his professional career, Jessie beat Khabib Allakhverdiev in 2014 to claim the WBA ‘Regular’ and IBO light welterweight titles. He then went on and retained his belt for two more convincing victories before challenging Timothy Bradley Jr. for the vacant WBO interim welterweight title. On June 27th, 2015 Vargas lost in a controversial unanimous decision. In round 12, Vargas landed a massive blow to Bradley that left him stumbling across the canvas. While landing a few more shots, the referee accidentally signaled the fight was over with 8 seconds actually remaining. Vargas was convinced that he had scored a TKO victory, and later filed an appeal for no contest. After the failed appeal, Vargas was officially handed the first loss of his career. On March 5th, 2016 Vargas rebounded with a 9th round TKO victory over Sadam Ali. He scored two knockdowns in the fight and cruised to the vacant WBO welterweight title. Seven months later Vargas was set up with the biggest fight of his career. The legend Manny Pacquiao took care of business and finished the night on a unanimous decision victory. Jessie really held his own against Pac-Man, keeping the fight close all 12 rounds. One judge even scored the fight 114-113, proving how well Vargas fought. Jessie’s setback of the night was Manny’s 36% connection rate compared to his own 19%- he simply didn’t land enough punches. After losing his welterweight title, Vargas went on to defeat Aaron Herrea in a 10- round UD. He then followed that up with back to back draws against competitors Adrien Broner and Thomas Dulorme. In both fights, Vargas showed signs of weakness in the final half, with conditioning coming into question. Broner dominated the last 6 rounds, out-landing Vargas 112-79 on punches. He could have walked away with a victory against Dulorme if it wasn’t for a 12th round knockdown that evened the scorecards.
At age 30, Vargas has a lot of mileage on his legs. He has shown that he’s capable of matching up with some of the best pound-for-pound boxers out there. This is an opportunity to revamp his career and get back to title contention. Can he finally win the big one and get over the hump? Look for “The Pride of Las Vegas” to use his reach and height advantage to slow the fight down. If he can dictate the pace and keep Garcia at a distance, he has a great shot at victory this weekend.
Jessie Vargas: +300
Mikey Garcia: -400
The easy pick is for the fight to go the distance and be decided by the scorecards. I think Vargas will come out of the gates hot and dominate the first few rounds. After a few rounds, Garcia will figure out the best way to approach the taller Vargas. His Texas home crowd will get behind him as the fight progresses into the later rounds. I predict a 10th round TKO victory for Mikey Garcia with his power and stamina making the difference.
Welterweight bout: Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas
WBA Junior Bantamweight title bout: (C) Kal Yafai vs. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez
WBC Flyweight title bout: (C) Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Jay Harris
Heavyweight bout: Joseph Parker vs. Shawndell Winters
Super Middleweight bout: Diego Pacheco vs. Oscar Rojas
Jr. Middleweight bout: Israil Madrimov vs. Charlie Navarro Super Middleweight bout: Alexis Espino vs. Delvecchio Savage Jr. Middleweight bout: Leo Ruiz Acevedo vs. Dennis Knifechief Flyweight bout: Jesse Rodriguez vs. Marco Sustaita