19-year-old Josue Vargas is gaining unique experiences in boxing that fighters who are 20 years older never get.
For instance, tonight Vargas (10-1, 6 KOs) will lead a card of young up-and-coming prospects taking over the Kings Theatre in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn when he takes on Victor Vazquez (10-3, 4 KOs).
Vargas is hoping tonight’s experience will be one of the sweeter tasting ones as he has also had some tough lessons which he has had to learn from. In 2016 Vargas suffered a disqualification loss against Samuel Santana at Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas with his promoter Floyd Mayweather sitting ringside.
The bout was stopped when Santana was unable to continue after Vargas landed a punch behind the head in an entertaining bout where both fighters scored knockdowns.
“I definitely learned from that experience,” said Vargas by phone during fight week. “It should not have been a DQ. It could have been a no-contest. (Referee) Tony Weeks changed it like three times. First he told me it will be a no contest, then he said they will take a point away from me and then it’s a disqualification loss. Of course, I was upset but I got over it. I’m glad it happened then and not later.”
Vargas believes that experience has taught him to remain composed in the ring especially when his opponent is hurt and on the way out.
“I knew if I had another round with Santana I would have had him,” added Vargas. “I feel now I know what to really do when I have someone in trouble.”
Tonight Vargas will have an opportunity to perform in front of friends and family as he expects a large turnout of supporters to be in attendance to cheer him on. Vargas is coming off an impressive knockout victory over Zack Ramsay just last month in the same building in Brooklyn where he was on the undercard.
“It’s a dream come true to be the main the event in Brooklyn for the first time,” said Vargas. A lot of my friends, fans and family can come see me put on a show and trust me I will put on a show. As a professional fighter fighting in New York city where I was raised. I am just so anxious to get in the ring.”
Vargas might be anxious leading up to the bout he said there are absolutely no nerves when it comes to fighting inside the ring. Vargas recalls the first time he flew to Las Vegas to meet with Mayweather and was invited to spar with future world champion Gervonta Davis at Mayweather’s gym.
“I did really well against Gervonta and Floyd was impressed and wanted to sign me,” said Vargas. “I’ve sparred with Gervonta and Floyd so when I fight these young cats I don’t get nervous at all.”
When Vargas was too young to qualify for the Olympics he decided with his father that the best option for them was to turn pro and at only 17, Vargas ventured out to Mexico for the first four bouts of his career.
With an amateur record of 72-8 and having defeated the likes of Shakur Stevenson and Richardson Hitchins, Vargas set off abroad at a young age to gain another type of experience that most never get to have.
It was a connection Vargas’ manager had to Mayweather that started that relationship, which has since stalled since Vargas is not participating on a Mayweather Promotions card and instead fighting on another promoter’s show.
“I am still signed to Mayweather Promotions but they are not getting me any fights,” said Vargas. “My manager is doing Floyd’s job.”
Vargas said the issue is non-boxing related and is due to a disagreement between Mayweather and his manager.
For now Vargas seems content to continue building his fan base in his hometown as he watches his Instagram following grow by the day and his own clothing line of hats and shirts with his nickname “The Prodigy” selling out with great grassroots marketing.
Header photo by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing