Jessie Vargas isn’t as busy as he used to be. But the closer you inch toward a world title shot, the more choosy you become as to who you fight.
The unbeaten 24-year-old welterweight from Las Vegas last fought on March 16. That night, he won a 10-round unanimous decision over Wale Omotoso to capture the vacant WBC Continental Americas title. It was Vargas’ first professional belt, and while it’s not the one he ultimately wants, he was glad to have won a title of any kind.
“It was special,” said Vargas (22-0, nine knockouts). “You start from somewhere and you work your way up, so this was a big step. But I won’t be satisfied until I win a world title.”
Vargas returns to the ring Oct. 11 in the main event of Top Rank’s card at the Thomas &Mack Center, where he will meet veteran Ray Narh (26-3, 21 KOs) in only his second ring appearance of 2013. By comparison, Vargas fought four times in 2012.
The original plan was for Vargas to fight on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s card. But when Chavez’s fight with Bryan Vera kept getting pushed back, it was decided to free up Vargas and let him fight in his hometown rather than at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., site of the Chavez Jr.-Vera fight Saturday night.
“I always believe things happen for a reason, and this is better for me,” Vargas said. “I get to headline in my hometown, and people can watch the fight on UniMas television, so I’ll get great exposure.”
Vargas said he and trainer Robert Alcazar have been spending the extra time in the gym focusing on using his right hand more effectively and also developing more of a killer instinct.
“I had Wale ready to go in the fifth round, and I didn’t finish him, and that bothered me,” Vargas said. “That was my inexperience showing. When I hurt a guy, I’m going to finish him off.”
Vargas said he expects a tough fight from Narh, 35, who is originally from Ghana and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“He’s got a lot of experience, and he’s a good fighter,” Vargas said. “I’m going to have to work to beat him. But at this point I need tough fights, and I need to look good winning them. That’s how you get bigger and better fights.”
■ OFFICIALS CHOSEN — Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Bill Brady promised changes in the wake of the C.J. Ross controversy, and he kept his word.
Before the selection of officials for the Oct. 12 welterweight title fight between Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas &Mack Center, which was done Wednesday at the commission’s monthly meeting, Brady personally called both camps to inquire if they had any objection to the list of proposed officials. That came on the heels of executive director Keith Kizer vetting both camps a couple of weeks ago.
There were no objections, and Las Vegas’ Robert Byrd will referee Bradley-Marquez. The three judges will be Robert Hoyle and Patricia Morse-Jarman of Las Vegas and Glenn Feldman of Connecticut.
The officials for the vacant WBO featherweight title fight between Orlando Salido and Orlando Cruz, which will be on the undercard of Bradley-Marquez, will have Las Vegas’ Kenny Bayless as the referee, with Jerry Roth and Glenn Trowbridge of Las Vegas and Ed Kugler of Colorado serving as judges.
■ DOUBLE NEGATIVE — The NAC reported Friday that all pre- and post-fight drug tests for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez came back negative. In addition, the other six fighters who competed on the pay-per-view portion of the Sept. 14 card at the MGM Grand Garden along with all fighters who competed on the Sept. 12 card at the MGM’s Grand Ballroom also came back negative.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on twitter @stevecarprj.