By Ian S Palmer
Former Junior Welterweight and Welterweight Champion Jessie Vargas of Los Angeles returns to the ring after a year absence when he takes on Aaron Herrera of Mexico this Friday, December 15th. The 10-round welterweight bout can be seen live from Lancaster, California on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes in the U.S. Vargas hasn’t fought since November of last year when he dropped a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao and lost his WBO Welterweight Crown. Herrera last fought in July when he stopped Israel Toala in the fourth round. Vargas stopped Sadam Ali in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO Title in March, 2016.
The 28-year-old Vargas fights out of Las Vegas and has an impressive record of 27-2 along with 10 Kos. He has some excellent boxing skills, but isn’t known as a big puncher even though his power seems to be improving with each outing. However, he enters the fight with a current knockout ratio of just 34 per cent. Vargas has shown in the past that he has a pretty solid chin, but has been down before from a body shot and Pacquiao also dropped him in the second round.
Vargas has proven to be quite a durable fighter and his only other defeat came at the hands of Timothy Bradley, who took a controversial 12-round unanimous decision from him in June of 2015. He struggled early in that fight, but then suddenly staggered Bradley in the 12th and final round and appeared to have him out on his feet. However, the referee made a crucial mistake and called the fight off with about seven seconds to go as he thought he heard the final bell.
Vargas won the WBA Junior Welterweight Crown in April of 2014 against Khabib Allakhverdiev and defended it twice against Antonio DeMarco and Anton Novikov before meeting Bradley. He’s a talented boxer/puncher with exceptional skills, but as mentioned earlier, lacks a big punch. Vargas likes to establish his jab to set up short, quick flurries to both the head and body. His other notable wins have been against Steve Forbes, Josesito Lopez, Walter Estrada and Vivian Harris.
He stands 5-feet-10-inches tall with a wingspan of 71 inches. Vargas turned pro back in 2008 and has 201 rounds under his belt. He has a slight one-inch height advantage over Herrera, but it’s unclear about the reach since Herrera has an unlisted reach. Herrera is also 28-years-old and is a bit of a brawler. He’ll climb into the ring with a record of 33-7-1 with 22 Kos. He went unbeaten in his first 24 pro bouts and stopped 16 of his opponents.
Herrera’s losses have been to Brandon Rios, Fernando Garcia, Jason Pagara, Selcuk Aydin, Pedro Campa, Regis Prograis and Mike Reed with Reed, Prograis, Aydin and Rios all stopping him. His lone draw was a six-round technical decision against Jorge Paez Jr. In 2014. Herrera turned pro in 2006 and has boxed 202 rounds since then. He’s got decent power with a knockout ratio of 54 per cent, but his chin is quite questionable since he’s been stopped four times.
Herrera has a puncher’s chance here, but will have to be wary of Vargas’ improving power. Vargas has the better boxing skills, but may have some ring rust after a year-long layoff. I’m expecting Vargas’ return to the ring to be a triumphant one.