LAS VEGAS — Junior welterweight Jesse Vargas is just 22 years old, yet he is unbeaten in 16 fight with 10 knockouts, and two bouts removed from a first-round stoppage over former world titleholder Vivian Harris whom he stopped with an old-school, debilitating body attack.
"You know, I think Jesse Vargas is a very, very talented fighter. I truly believe that he can be one of the biggest stars in the sport in the future," said Vargas' promoter, who is none other than unbeaten six-time, five-division titlewinner Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0, 25 KOs).
"Jesse is an up and coming and he's young, but yet he's very smart and very, very poised to be so young."
To date, Vargas is coming off of his second straight knockout win, and his sixth in his past eight fights with a second round stoppage of Walter Estrada in July.
Vargas will be on the under card of Saturday night's HBO Pay Per View televised main event from the MGM Grand, when Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) will try to take the belt from Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs).
"I think it's been very beneficial having Floyd on my side. He's a great promoter, and he's brought me up the right way, I feel. I'm very happy with the company. Floyd being the way that he is, that's what got him to be where he is now, and I feel that it's going to help me," said Vargas.
"Floyd is a very nice guy, but I guess that sometimes, he puts it on for the television cameras sometimes. That's my personal opinion. I see him as a very nice guy, and I'm with him every now and then, so I don't have anything bad to say about him."
Vargas will be there taking on 27-year-old Josesito Lopez (29-3, 17 KOs) in the first bout of the evening, after which 34-year-old three-division titlewinner Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) will meet 21-year-old Pablo Cesar Cano (22-0-1, 17 KOs) for the WBC's junior welterweight belt.
"I'm expecting Josesito to come and to fight, but at the same time, that's what's going to make it a good fight. I don't see him beating me. I see him going down, either in the early rounds or the later rounds," said Vargas.
"I'm not cocky, I'm just feeling strong and fast with the things that I've been working on. I'm in tremendous shape and ready to go. I saw him at a press conference yesterday and I wanted to hit him right then. We've been in training for six, seven weeks, so I'm ready to go, and I think that I'm going to knock him out."
Vargas will be fighting on the under card of a Mayweather main event for the third time, having also done so when his promoter vanquished Juan Manuel Marquez and Shane Mosley, respectively, by unanimous decision in September of 2009 and May of last year.
"I'm very thankful that he's speaking very highly of me, and that he believes in me, and now, it's up to me to show the world what I have. You're going to see a good boxer and a guy who knows how to brawl and do a little bit of everything," said Vargas, a Las Vegas resident.
"I don't feel any pressure yet. I've been waiting for these moments for year, so what can I say? I've been waiting for it. Come fight night, I'm going to feel very positive and ready to go. I have to back up what he's been saying to people."
Vargas said that he has faith in Mayweather's ability to choose his proper career path.
"He's very hands on. I believe that he's made the right choices to bring me up the way that he has. When he's training, it's very hard for him to come in and to check me out training because he's also getting ready for a fight," said Vargas.
"But when he's not training, he stops by the gym and makes sure that I'm doing everything right. And if not, then he will correct me on a couple of the things that I'm doing wrong."
So high on Vargas is Mayweather, that he has even suggested that his charge might be ready to face WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) of England, who is clamoring for a match up with Mayweather.
"We'll take that challenge. I'm willing to take on whoever there is at 140. I've got a lot of confidence in myself, and my company does too," said Vargas.
"If Amir Khan really does want the fight with Floyd, then he has to fight me. Let's start looking into it. I'm willing to fight anyone."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org