LAS VEGAS — Junior welterweight Jessie Vargas said on Thursday that he had replayed his upcoming fight with Khabib Allakhverdiev several times in his head, and that he only saw it ending one way: With his hands raised in victory.
A 24-year-old Las Vegas resident, Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs) wound up being prophetic against the southpaw Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 KOs), winning an unpopular decision, 117-111 on the card of judge Robert Hoyle, and, 115-113 on those of Alan Krebs and Jerry Roth.
Vargas-Allakhverdiev happened on the Tim Bradley-Manny Pacquiao card on HBO Pay Per View at the MGM Grand.
"I followed my instructions," said Vargas. "This was my first 12-round fight, and it made me a better fighter."
Allakhverdiev was cut badly over his left eye in the eighth round as a result of an accidental clash of heads, and the injury worsened over the final portion of the fight, as did a welt over his right eye. By the time the fight was over, Allakhverdiev's left eye was all but closed.
"We knew that Jessie's left hand would do most of the damage in this fight. It was the left hand and then the crossing right hand did damage to his eye," said trainer Ismail Salas. "We trained for three months at the Top Rank Gym, and he came into the fight highly-conditioned."
Yet against Vargas, it was Allkhverdiev who applied steady pressure and delivered evenly with both hands, which forced Vargas to fight in retreat throughout much of the night.
"I should have been much busier earlier, but I got control midway through the fight," said Vargas, who has not stopped a fighter in his past eight matches, his last knockout win coming in the second-round knockout against Walter Estrada in July 2011. "I think that I took control by landing the left hand to his eye, and once the cut opened up, I kept going after it."
Also, junior lightweight Bryan Vasquez (33-1, 17 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Jose Felix Jr. (26-1-1, 12 KOs), taking it by 117-110 on the card of Levi Martinez, and, 114-113 on those of both Patricia Morse Jarman and Richard Houck.
The 26-year-old Vasquez won for the fourth straight time since being knocked out in the WBA beltholder Takashi Uchiyama in December of 2012, with two of his wins coming by stoppage. Vasquez had last been in the ring for a fifth-round technical decision over Rene Gonzalez in July.
For Felix, 21, his first loss ended a streak of three straight knockouts, having previously been in action for a third-round knockout of Santos Benavides in November.
In the ninth round, referee Robert Byrd deducted a point from Felix for delivering a knee to Vasquez's groin. Felix also strayed low in the 10, but was not penalized for that infraction.
Vasquez had an advantage in overall punches landed, 225-161, as well as power punches (184-105). Felix landed more jabs at 56-to-41.
List of celebrities in attendance: