Next FOY Candidate?

Next Fight of the Year Candidate?

By David A. Avila

It’s rare to find a pair of prizefighters that have participated in two “Fight of the Year” battles but that’s what you have in Mexico’s Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas and Japan’s Takashi Miura.

Vargas and Miura will be featured on separate bouts on Saturday Jan. 28, at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. The Golden Boy Promotions fight card also showcases three burgeoning prospects from the Inland Empire. HBO will televise the co-main events.

Two years ago, Vargas and Miura fought each other in an epic clash that resulted in being named “Fight of the Year for 2015. It was a seesaw battle in Las Vegas that saw both fighters knocked down and seemingly out. But in the end Vargas emerged the winner with a ninth round knockout and took the world title.

Last year, June to be exact, Vargas fought Orlando Salido at the StubHub Center in a gripping display of violence. It was expected to be a Fight of the Year candidate when it was first signed. It lived up to those expectations. After 12 bloody and electrifying rounds the fight ended in a draw and was indeed given the award for best “Fight of the Year” for 2016.

In 2013, Japan’s Miura fought Mexico’s Sergio Thompson in a brutal battle held in a Cancun, Mexico bullring where temperatures soared near 100 degrees and the humidity was stifling. Both fighters floored each other and managed to recover and continue on until the end of 12 incredible punch-filled rounds. After Miura was announced the winner he collapsed from heat exhaustion and was taken away on a stretcher. Four months later the battle was named the “Fight of the Year.”

WBC world title defense

This coming Saturday, Vargas (23-0-2, 17 Kos) defends the WBC super featherweight world title against fellow Mexican slugger Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (30-1, 27 Kos). It took Vargas six months to recover from the “Fight of the Year” beating he absorbed last June from Salido. But should he win against Berchelt, whose nickname means scorpion, then, he would probably be matched against Miura who wants the title back.

Miura (30-3-2, 23 Kos) meets yet another Mexican bomber in Miguel Roman (56-11, 43 Kos) who hasn’t lost a fight almost five years. Among the Mexican fighter’s victims were former world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon.

Inland area boxing fans will be treated to not just one but two fights that potentially could be named “Fight of the Year” after the day is all over. It’s all about fighting styles and both of these super featherweight bouts match fighters that specialize in scientific violence and destruction.

Also included on the fight card are three young prospects from the area. Vergil Ortiz (3-0, 3 Kos) trains under the tutelage of Joel Diaz. He’s a tall angular super lightweight with crackling power.

“He’s one of those guys who doesn’t say much but works out very hard and is extremely focused,” said Diaz. “Vergil has everything he needs to be a world champion.”

Ortiz will be joined on the boxing card by stable mates Luis Coria a featherweight from Moreno Valley and Cesar Diaz a bantamweight. All train with Diaz at Indio and are prized prospects.

The first bout begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The special guest will be now retired Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. For more information call (800) 827-2946.