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Las Vegan Jessie Vargas seeks signature win over Mikey Garcia

Las Vegas resident and former two-weight world champion boxer Jessie Vargas is seeking world championships in two more weight classes.

He’ll first need to go through Mikey Garcia — a former four-weight world champion himself.

Vargas (29-2-2, 11 knockouts) returns to the ring Saturday on DAZN against Garcia at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas. The 30-year-old Vargas hasn’t been a champion since Nov. 6 2016, when he lost his WBO welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao.

But he says he can establish himself as a top title contender once again by defeating the 32-year-old Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs), one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing who sustained his first and only loss last March to undefeated unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

“This would be one of my biggest victories to date. Mikey Garcia is a household name himself,” Vargas said. “I will be a name that people will recognize for many, many years to come. … I have a lot left in me.”

Vargas opened his professional career with 26 consecutive victories and captured the WBA and IBO super lightweight titles from Khabib Allakhverdiev in March of 2014. He beat Sadam Ali in March of 2016 to capture the WBO welterweight title but promptly lost it to Pacquiao in a fight that he says taught him a lot.

“It’s simple things that have come together that make me feel the way I do now,” Vargas said. “I just feel complete.”

Vargas is unbeaten in his last four fights, including draws against former four-weight world champion Adrien Broner and former light welterweight contender Thomas Dulorme. He beat Humberto Soto by technical knockout last April to set up his showdown against Garcia, against whom he feels he has multiple advantages.

Namely size and speed.

Vargas is 5-foot-11 while Garcia stands 5-6, and his 71-inch reach exceeds Garcia’s by three inches. He insists he’ll be aggressive, both sharp and powerful, and is eager to prove that he can beat Garcia and become a champion once again.

“Mikey’s a good fighter, I think we can all acknowledge that,” Vargas said. “I think that my strong punches are going to make a difference at that point.”

ShoBox in Las Vegas on Friday

Las Vegas resident and undefeated super lightweight Keith Hunter (11-0, 7 KOs) is fighting Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (12-2,1, 6 KOs) on Friday night at Sam’s Town Casino. Super lightweight Richardson Hitchins (10-0, 5 KOs) will also fight Nick DeLomba (16-2, 5 KOs), and Las Vegan super middleweight Kevin Newman II (11-1-1, 6 KOs) faces Genc Pllana (7-1-1, 4 KOs).

The trio of fights will be televised on Showtime as part of the network’s ShoBox: The New Generation series.

Taylor to defend title in May

Unified super lightweight champion Josh Taylor will defend his title against Apinun Khongsong on May 2 at The SSE Hydro in Glaskow, Scotland, Top Rank announced Thursday. Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) won the IBF super lightweight title last May by beating Ivan Baranchyk via unanimous decision. He added the WBA title in October with a majority decision over Regis Prograis.

Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) last beat Yosmar Kefi in July by knockout.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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