Doug Fischer

On the Cusp: 10 fighters poised to make major breakthroughs in 2012

JESSIE VARGAS
Weight class: Junior welterweight
Age: 22
Record: 17-0 (9 KOs)
Region: Las Vegas
Skinny: Vargas was known as an all-action fighter, a reputation that was supported by his quickie stoppages of former 140-pound beltholder Vivian Harris in April and veteran spoiler Walter Estrada in July, but his split-decision victory over fringe contender Josesito Lopez proved his versatility and his potential to be a bona-fide contender. Not that his showdown with Lopez wasn’t an action fight. The 10-round battle, which was the opening bout of the Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz Pay-Per-View broadcast, stole the show. The two junior welterweights went at it like pitbulls. However, when it became evident that Lopez, a young veteran of 30 pro bouts (29-3), could absorb flush power shots without blinking, Vargas was able to make the necessary adjustments — mainly employing lateral movement, doubling and tripling the jab and upping his punch output — in order to edge the Southern Californian on the scorecards. Prior to the Sept. 17 card, Mayweather, who promotes Vargas, told the media that WBA/IBF 140-pound titleholder Amir Khan would have to fight his prospect before the UK star could get a shot at him. Vargas is obviously not ready for Khan, THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight, but it says here that he would give the fighters in the lower top 10 of the magazine’s rankings hell.
Strengths: Aggressive nature… ability to box and brawl… above-average power… dedication to training and learning his craft… willingness to challenge himself.
Weaknesses: Sometimes overconfident… defensive lapses… tendency to stand and trade.

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