In Friday night’s ShoBox: The New Generation main event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, junior welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas gave as good as he got, and more, before emerging victorious from an ugly, 10-round unanimous decision over Lanardo Tyner.
The 22-year-old Vargas (18-0, 10 knockouts) won all but one round on the three judges’ cards in a brawl that featured two low blows by each of the boxers, exchanges long after the bell following the first, second and fifth rounds, and both combatants tasting the canvas twice — none of which were official knockdowns.
Jerry Roth, Dave Moretti and Duane Ford all had Vargas winning 99-91 over Tyner (25-7-2, 15 KOs), who lost for the third straight time since defeating former titleholder Vivian Harris in July of last year.
Promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr., Vargas was coming off September’s 10-round split-decision over rugged fringe contender Josesito Lopez on November’s undercard of Mayweather’s fourth-round stoppage of Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Having also scored a second-round knockout of Walter Estrada in July, Vargas now looks to be on the undercard of Mayweather’s HBO Pay Per View-televised challenge to WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto on May 5.
Vargas had to overcome an eighth-round point deduction for a low blow against Lopez, and did not take long to do the same thing against Tyner, whom he dropped with a left to the groin in the first round.
Tyner returned the favor in the fourth with an equally vicious left to Vargas’ cup, only to be floored again himself by another retaliatory left to the groin by Vargas. Vargas would land another low blow in the eighth round, as well as pushing Tyner through the ropes and onto the ring apron.
But dirty tactics notwithstanding, the fight was entertaining.
Vargas waged war from the beginning of the first round with a vicious body attack before Tyner began to answer. Over the final 20 seconds, an energized Tyner rocked Vargas with two hard left hands. The fighters continued to exchange after the bell.
Halfway through the second round, Tyner switched to southpaw and drove Vargas into the ropes with a couple hard shots. Vargas escaped behind his jab and got on his bicycle, even as Tyner fired and landed a left hook out of the orthodox stance. Again, the boxers exchanged after the bell.
Trainer Robert Alcazar instructed Vargas to box more prior to the third, while Tyner was told to maintain the pressure.
Vargas didn’t listen, and absorbed a crisp, left uppercut from Tyner early in the third. Tyner continued to crowd Vargas in an attempt to smother his punches, but Vargas forced Tyner backward and raked him to the body with both hands in a neutral corner. The fighters continued to trade from close quarters, with Vargas going strongly to the body at the close of the round.
Tyner hammered away early to the body with both hands in the fourth, but Vargas answered, eventually forcing his rival backward, trapping him on the ropes and pounding away himself. Tyner drove home a left hand directly on Vargas’ cup, followed by a short right to the head before Vargas went down.
Referee Tony Weeks allowed Vargas time to recover, and when he did, the fighters exchanged fiercly before Vargas landed another low blow — a left — that dropped Tyner.
Weeks then brought the fighters together to calm them down before action resumed.
Vargas was back on his toes early in the fifth, occasionally stopping to throw combinations to the head and body. Over the final minute, Vargas continued to hammer at Tyner’s body against an occasional right hand. Again, the fighters exchanged after the bell.
The pace slowed in the sixth and seventh, during which Vargas fought mostly in retreat and from a distance while Tyner stalked ineffectively. A jab and a nice, long right hand landed in the sixth for Vargas, who also added a right cross and a double left hook to the body.
Vargas’ punches were more potent in the seventh, where he landed occasional head-swiveling blows — most notably a head-snapping lead right. Tyner owned the final 20 seconds of the seventh, however, driving home left and right uppercuts to the head and body.
From his toes over the first portion of the eighth round, Vargas, yet again, boxed effectivly. That is, until he landed another low blow with his right hand that Weeks allowed Tyner to recover from. Vargas, nevertheless, did not stray from his body work, winning the round behind his jab.
Throughout much of the ninth, Vargas followed and pounded Tyner to the body, rising to the head starting with about a minute remaining. Tyner covered up and was less active against the younger man.
Vargas boxed early in the 10th, survived a rally by Tyner with about 40 seconds left, and fired from a distance over the final seconds.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org