Vargas goes on road in pursuit of title fight


Jessie Vargas is taking his act on the road.

The undefeated Las Vegas welterweight will fight March 16 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in the co-feature behind Timothy Bradley’s WBO welterweight title defense against Ruslan Provodnikov.

The 23-year-old Vargas (21-0, nine knockouts) will meet Wale Omotoso (23-0, 19 KOs) in a 10-round bout that Vargas hopes might lead to a title shot this year.

“Every fight is big at this point,” Vargas said. “I’m trying to position myself for a shot at a world title, but I can’t afford to take a backward step.”

HBO will show the card, and Vargas-Omotoso will be part of the telecast.

“I want to keep visible, and being on HBO means a lot,” Vargas said. “This is an interesting fight. (Omotoso) is a big puncher. He’s got 19 knockouts. But I think I can adapt to anything he does, and I’m going to use my speed, my defense and pick my punches.”

There was speculation that Top Rank was considering matching Vargas against Juan Manuel Marquez in April. But with Marquez willing to wait for Manny Pacquiao in September, that plan never materialized.

“We did talk about Marquez,” Vargas said. “But it was only going to happen if Manny Pacquiao took a fight in April. Once he decided not to, I guess Marquez decided to do the same. But it was a thrill just to be mentioned as a possible opponent.”

With Las Vegans Ishe Smith and Diego Magdaleno preparing for world title fights, Vargas is hoping his turn also will come this year. Smith will meet IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage on Feb. 23, and Magdaleno will face WBO super featherweight champ Rocky Martinez on April 6.

“I’m looking forward to getting my opportunity,” Vargas said. “I’m happy for those guys, but I’m taking my own path. I want to be a world champion and be a star for a long time, so I’m staying patient. If I can keep winning, I’ll get my chance.”

That chance might not come against Bradley, with both fighters managed by Cameron Dunkin.

“Cameron doesn’t like seeing his fighters facing each other,” Vargas said. “But if it was for a world title, sure, I’d fight (Bradley).

■ STATE GOLDEN GLOVES — The state’s top amateurs will compete in the Nevada Golden Gloves Tournament on Saturday and Feb. 17 at Barry’s Boxing.

Boxers 17 and older will compete in 10 weight classes, with the winners advancing to the West Regionals on March 16 and 17 in Las Vegas at a site to be determined. The nationals will be May 14 to 18 in Salt Lake City.

The first bell for Saturday’s competition is scheduled for 3 p.m., with the finals on Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. Tickets, priced at $10, are available at the door.

■ SILVER NUGGET AMATEURS — North Las Vegas Center Ring Boxing will host an amateur card Feb. 23 at the Silver Nugget. Twenty bouts are scheduled, and tickets, priced at $10, will be available at the door. The card starts at 6 p.m.

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

 

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