Junior welterweight Jessie Vargas has yet to take a bad step during his four-year professional boxing career. He can’t afford to stumble now.
The unbeaten 22-year-old from Las Vegas gets a chance to show how good he is Sept. 17 when he makes his HBO Pay Per View debut against veteran Josesito Lopez on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden.
“This has been my dream since I was a kid, and now I’m living it,” said Vargas (16-0, nine knockouts). “I’m hoping to fight for a world title sometime next year. But to get that chance, I have to keep winning.”
Vargas, a graduate of Palo Verde High School who attends classes at College of Southern Nevada, has switched trainers during the summer. Roger Mayweather, who trained Vargas for his first 15 pro fights, is focusing on his nephew’s fight against Ortiz, so Vargas has turned to another accomplished trainer, Robert Alcazar.
In his first fight with Alcazar in his corner, Vargas recorded a second-round knockout of Walter Estrada on July 8 at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm.
“I’m much more comfortable with (Alcazar),” Vargas said. “He’s built on the things that Roger taught me, and he has helped me with my footwork. We only had two weeks for our first fight together. Now, with seven weeks to prepare for this fight, I expect there’ll be a big difference.”
Assuming he gets past Lopez (29-3, 17 KOs), Vargas said his goal is to continue to improve and put himself in position to fight for a world title — and the hefty payday that comes with it.
“I’m not focusing on being undefeated,” Vargas said. “It’s about being the best boxer I can be, and I’m confident I will be fighting for one of the belts in 2012.”
■ ORTIZ BITTER? — Ortiz revealed a side of himself seldom seen on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. He seemed a bit prickly when asked about his preparation for his title defense against Mayweather and how he is handling the intense spotlight for the megafight.
“It was one of those things where I learned how to not care about anything like that,” Ortiz said. “And now, thanks to the media, I won’t need to even explain or even get into why and say what I’m saying and in a derogatory way. I just don’t really care.
“I’m not there to impress or try to make something more of myself. What you see is what you get. At the end of the day, I’m still the same me.”
Ortiz went into a lengthy rant when the subject of his weight was raised.
“I never had trouble making 140,” Ortiz said, referring to his junior welterweight loss to Marcos Maidana in 2009. “The media, for some reason, took it out of proportion, completely mixed it around in the media, and of course, they wrote what they thought if they were me and them in my shoes would be like. So whatever they felt they needed to put out in the media, they did.
“And, of course, the media is always very negative, because they sit around all day long, day in and day out, feeling sorry for themselves. It’s none of my fault. I mean, I’m sorry that you don’t have a life. I, on the other hand, I was making 140 pounds eating six times a day, sleeping, even snacking once in a while — a Snickers here and there. Of course, my coaches don’t know that, but if they didn’t know, they do now.”
■ TEXAS STATION CARD — Unbeaten heavyweight Seth Mitchell will headline a Sept. 16 Golden Boy card at Texas Station’s Dallas Events Center. Mitchell (22-0, 16 KOs) will fight a 10-round bout against an opponent to be determined.
The card also will feature an eight-round welterweight bout with former Dominican OIympian Felix Diaz (9-0, six KOs). Junior welterweight Tyler Lawson of Las Vegas makes his pro debut in a four-round bout.
The card will be televised by Telefutura and Fox Sports Net, with the first bell tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.