Vargas vs. Tomlinson: Loading up for a Shootout

Vargas vs. Tomlinson Poster - Aus Boxing

HBO Latino will kick off a monstrous weekend of boxing on Thursday, March 12, 2015, when exciting Super Featherweight contenders Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (21-0-1, 15 KOs) of Mexico City takes on Australia’s “Wild” Will Tomlinson (23-1-1, 13 KOs) from the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.

Vargas is coming off of an impressive 2014 campaign with victories over Abner Cotto in March, Juan Manuel Lopez in July and a knockout win over fellow Mexican slugger Genaro Camargo in December.

Tomlinson started 2014 on the wrong foot with a loss to Jerry Belmontes in Tomlinson’s first-ever-fight in the U.S., but then bounced back with wins over Alberto Cupido in August, and Miguel Zamudio in December.

Both of these fighters have made their case as live contenders in the 130-pound division over the last couple years, and will have a potential title shot on the line when they meet on Thursday.

Tomlinson spoke with Ringside Australia about a fight with Vargas.

[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“A win over Vargas gets me to where I need to be, but I think I ended the year well enough for people to know that I’m ready for whoever gets offered to me.”[/otw_shortcode_quote]

You could say this fight is being overshadowed by the Premier Boxing Champions on Friday night, and Sergey Kovalev vs. John Pascal on HBO on Saturday, but stylistically it has the potential to be the most exciting fight of the weekend.

Vargas will enter the ring as the naturally bigger and stronger fighter, who has the power in both hands to knockout any contender in the 130-pound division.

Tomlinson’s the quicker man, who can crack in his own right, and with his shiftier style he will attempt to create angles from which he can work from inside the pocket, while keeping the fight in the center of the ring.

Although Tomlinson has struggled against taller and longer fighters in the past, don’t expect Vargas to attempt to use his reach advantage so thoroughly, he’s just not the type of fighter to technically box 10 rounds from the outside.

This makes for a potentially all-action fight between two hungry young-guns,who still have a lot to prove, in front of what will certainly be a raucous Texas fight crowd, and with records, pride and possibly a title shot on the line.

Francisco Vargas2-Josh Hedges
Photo By: Josh Hedges

Keys to a Francisco Vargas Victory:

Francisco Vargas is going to have to come into this fight angry and aggressive, like a man possessed, who’s defending his territory against an outside intruder.

He’s the bigger, stronger, heavier handed fighter and he’s going to want to over impose his size early and often on Tomlinson.

Just because Vargas is taller and has a reach advantage, doesn’t mean he’s going to want to get cute and go against his usual style of fighting.

If he can smother Tomlinson, Vargas will control the tempo of the fight and keep it around the perimeter of the ring, which will benefit his game plan.

He will however want to use his four-inch reach advantage to get inside on Tomlinson, putting Vargas in position to work to the body, and set up combinations.

By throwing hard jabs upstairs on Tomlinson, Vargas will force the Aussie to keep his guard tight, nullifying Tomlinson’s quicker hands, which he will be attempting to counter attack with.

It’s a similar strategy to which Vargas used in his fight against Brandon Bennett back in August 2013.

Vargas used his size advantage for nine straight rounds to grind Bennett down, frustrating him and ultimately outpointing him to a unanimous decision victory.

(09-08-2013) Francisco Vargas vs Brandon Bennett by danton1988
He’s going to want to attempt to imitate that same game plan on Thursday, while cutting off the ring on Tomlinson, who could be looking to move more laterally than he has in previous fights.

Tomlinson will pose more problems for Vargas than Bennett was able to, Tomlinson’s a bigger puncher than Bennett, and will be attempting to gain Vargas’ respect early with sharp, pin-point counter shots.

Vargas will have to show a serious beard, he’s going to get hit a lot in this fight, but the more he whittles away at Tomlinson, the less countering he’ll have to endure from the smaller fighter.

Will Tomlinson-By George Salpigtidis
Photo By: George Salpigtidis

Keys to a Will Tomlinson victory:

Will Tomlinson is all-too-familiar with being the smaller guy in the fight, standing 5’7″, he’s usually punching up to his opponents.

What Tomlinson does is use his smaller frame to move and feint his way into his opponents, allowing him to get off first and in turn, become the bigger man.

That’s exactly what he’s going to have to do when he goes up against by far his toughest foe to date in Vargas.

Tomlinson was very successful in his last fight against Zamudio by using a feint jab, drawing Zamudio’s guard high, then coming into the pocket low, and getting off first with left hand’s to Zamudio’s body.

This strategy frustrated Zamudio by keeping him guessing, and set Tomlinson up to open opportunities to string together two-and-three punch combinations.

In order for Tomlinson to execute this game plan on Vargas, who’s much more a boogeyman than Zamudio, Tomlinson will have to stand his ground early and gain some respect. He’s not going to be able to come right out at Vargas the way he did to Zamudio.

Tomlinson does have the precision punching and power to confidently stand his ground, anytime Vargas strings together jabs in order to move in on Tomlinson, that’s when Tomlinson needs to take a side-step and work into Vargas’ body.

Hurting Vargas to the body is Tomlinson’s best bet to slowing him down over the course of the fight.

After landing, Tomlinson needs to move laterally, which is something he doesn’t do much, but he’ll be a sitting duck for the bigger Vargas if he gets too comfortable delivering punches flat footed.

When you’re an underdog in a boxing match, sometimes you have to change what you normally do in order to equal the playing field.

By Tomlinson moving and keeping off of the ropes, he drags Vargas deeper into the fight, which benefits the extremely well-conditioned Tomlinson.

Then it’s in the later stages of the fight, with respect gained, and a speed advantage confirmed, when Tomlinson can begin to sit down on his punches more, set traps, and work counter shots off of Vargas’ aggressive style.

Tomlinson is also going to have to also show a great chin, and be extremely brave while weathering the early storm that will be put on him by Vargas, but if Tomlinson can do so, he could keep the fight close enough to steal it with speed in the last couple rounds.

Prediction and What’s next for the Winner:

There’s an interesting clash of styles in this fight, and the fact that they both love to exchange while in close leaves the possibility that it doesn’t make it to the final bell.

Francisco Vargas might be the most promising young contender in the Super Lightweight division today, but will have to push past a tough and fiery Will Tomlinson if he wants a shot at one of the titles.

I believe Vargas will do just that, his size and strength advantage will be too much for Tomlinson to fight off early, and I believe Tomlinson will be doing just enough to hang on by the final bell.

If Tomlinson had a little more power in his hands, I’d maybe pick him to be able to earn Vargas’ respect early, allowing him to control the fight with his speed late, but I just don’t see it happening.

There’s going to be a massive showing of support for Vargas at this fight and I think it drives him enough to win a hard-fought fight.

Tomlinson’s toughness will see him to the end, but he won’t do enough to win more rounds and pull off the upset.

Orlando Salido - Zanfer Promotions8
Photo by Zanfer Promotions

Coming into this fight, Francisco Vargas is ranked in the top five in the Super Lightweight division by three out of four of the major sanctioning bodies.

Including ranked No. 1 by the WBC, whose current champion is Japan’s Takashi Miura, and even more interesting, ranked No. 1 by the WBO, whose current champion is fellow Mexican, Orlando Salido.

Salido’s scheduled to make a defense against Roman Martinez in April, and if he can get past that fight, and Vargas takes care of Tomlinson, that sets up an extremely entertaining championship fight, that would draw huge interest from the massive Mexican and Mexican-American boxing audiences.

Orlando Salido vs. Francisco Vargas is a can’t-miss, all-action type fight that would certainly be worthy of being a main event on HBO’s Championship Boxing.


Header Photo By: Josh Hedges

Who do you think will win between Francisco Vargas and Will Tomlinson? Please feel free to discuss in our comments section below.

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