Jessie Vargas has been out of the spotlight, but his hometown didn’t forget about him.
The Mayweather Boxing Club in Chinatown was at near capacity for a media workout last week and it wasn’t for Floyd Mayweather.
The large turnout was for the Las Vegan, Vargas, who started his career with Mayweather Promotions.
Vargas will face Adrien Broner on Saturday for a Showtime-televised main event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The catchweight bout of 144 pounds will follow the Jermall Charlo-Hugo Centeno middleweight fight.
Gervonta Davis, a Mayweather protege, will meet Jesus Cuellar in a junior lightweight bout to open the televised tripleheader at 6 p.m.
“Feels good to be home,” Vargas said about returning to Mayweather’s gym. “I had a lot of success here and it feels good to be back.”
Vargas (28-2, 10 knockouts) left Mayweather’s promotional company in 2012 to join Top Rank. Vargas became a two-division champion under Bob Arum’s banner, but came up short in his biggest fights — losing to Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao.
After a six-year run with Top Rank, Vargas needed a change of scenery and time off to recharge. He hired Mike McCallum as his new trainer and joined Premier Boxing Champions, which co-promotes many bouts with Mayweather Promotions.
Vargas, 28, ended a 13-month layoff in December when he defeated Aaron Herrera in a bout he was supposed to win. He wants to make a statement by defeating the flashy Broner, a former four-division champion.
“I did enjoy some time off, but it’s time for me to make a comeback and show the fans that I’m here better than ever,” Vargas said. “I gained a lot of experience in my last big fight against Manny Pacquiao.”
Vargas stayed busy during his time off as a boxing analyst for multiple TV networks in English and Spanish. He took English and psychology classes at UNLV and spent time with his daughter.
“People recognize me at (UNLV),” Vargas said. “They can’t believe it, ‘What are you doing here?’ I tell them, ‘Yo, I want to learn something new, too.’”
Vargas isn’t a household name in the U.S., but he’s Las Vegas’ boxing ambassador. He often attends local charity events and takes his time doing interviews.
Vargas’ likeable personality was evident at his media workout with a horde of reporters there. He’s left his mark in Las Vegas.
On Saturday, he hopes to leave a mark on his boxing resume with a signature victory over Broner.
Nonito Donaire traveled to Belfast, Ireland, with hopes of earning another world title shot. He’ll get that if he’s able to defeat Carl Frampton in a featherweight bout Saturday.
Donaire, a Las Vegas resident, could be on his way to the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a former four-division champion, but “The Filipino Flash” isn’t satisfied at age 35.
“Carl is an amazing fighter,” Donaire (38-4, 24 knockouts) said. “I have to give it to the guy. For a long time, he was the boogeyman in boxing. He has chosen this fight because it inspires him and I came to Belfast because it inspires me.”
The bout will be streamed at 2:15 p.m. on Showtime Sports’ YouTube channel and Showtime Boxing’s Facebook page.
Frampton (24-1, 14 KOs) was the 2016 Fighter of the Year and a former two weight champion. The winner will be first in line to face WBO titlist Oscar Valdez when he returns from injury.