Undefeated Vargas ends layoff on Hard Rock card

Jessie Vargas is ready to get back to work.

The unbeaten welterweight from Las Vegas fights tonight for the first time since he outpointed Josesito Lopez on Sept. 17 when he faces veteran Lanardo Tyner in a 10-round main event at the Hard Rock Hotel. The fight will air tape delayed on Showtime at 11 p.m.

"I intend to stay busy," Vargas said. "This is a big year for me, and I'm trying to position myself for a (world) title shot. So I need to win and look good doing it."

The Lopez fight was tough for Vargas (17-0, nine knockouts), who went the 10-round distance for the first time and won a split decision at the MGM Grand Garden on the same night Floyd Mayweather Jr. stopped Victor Ortiz. Vargas said the experience proved invaluable.

"He made me work, and I had to adjust during the fight and use different tactics," Vargas said. "I got frustrated because I thought I would get him out of there quickly. But he proved to be a tough guy, and I learned an important lesson: You've got to stay patient. Ten rounds is a long time, and you can't lose your focus."

The 22-year-old Vargas, who attended Palo Verde High School, still is adjusting to his trainer, Robert Alcazar, who took over last year after Roger Mayweather had guided Vargas through his first 15 fights. But Vargas said he and Alcazar are in tune and he sees the improvement in his ring skills.

"We've been working on my footwork and head movement," Vargas said. "He has plenty of things to teach me, so I'm very happy."

After taking 45 days off following the Lopez fight, Vargas hired Brynee Hudson, a strength and conditioning coach who has helped him maintain his strength throughout his camp while increasing his speed and explosiveness.

"I'm stronger, faster and quicker," Vargas said. "My foot speed and my hand speed has improved. I used to feel myself getting tired toward the end of my camp. Not this time."

Vargas' opponent, 36-year-old Tyner (25-6-2, 15 KOs), has only one win in his past five fights, a 10-round decision over Vivian Harris on July 15. Vargas stopped Harris in the first round April 8 in Primm.

"I expect him to come right after me and try to pressure me," Vargas said. "But I'm ready for anything."

Vargas said the plan is to win tonight and then fight on the undercard of Mayweather's bout against Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the Grand Garden. Whoever Vargas faces from now on, it will be at 147 pounds, he said.

"That's where I'm staying," Vargas said, having decided to leave behind his dream of winning a junior welterweight title. "I'm comfortable at 147. That's where I want to be a world champion."

In the 10-round co-main event, Deandre Lattimore (22-3, 17 KOs) will meet Milton Nunez (23-3-1, 21 KOs), who was a replacement for Ryan Davis after the Nevada Athletic Commission found Davis failed his eye test as part of his prefight physical.

The first bell is scheduled at 6:30 p.m., with the televised bouts starting at 8.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.