By Miguel Maravilla
Coming off an exciting victory, former WBC super featherweight champion Francisco “Bandido” Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) of Mexico City is on a mission seeking to regain the WBC title he once held. Just a few weeks ago Vargas scored a technical decision over England’s Stephen “Swifty” Smith (25-4, 15 KOs). Fightnews.com caught up with Vargas and his manager Ralph Heredia as they talked about “El Bandido” and his goals for 2018.
“I am happy with that win after that long layoff and returning with a victory. We had a tough opponent,” Francisco Vargas told Fightnews.com®.
This was Vargas’s first fight with trainer Joel Diaz, who has worked and trained former world champions Timothy Bradley, Omar Figueroa, and currently trains former world champion Lucas Matthysse.
“Now with a new trainer, I am happy working with him,” Vargas on Joel Diaz. “I felt good there were some changes from my last camp.”
Vargas was in a tough scrap in his last fight as he returned to the ring after nearly a one year layoff. Battling out with Smith for nine rounds until the fight was stopped as Smith’s left ear was cut split in half.
“I was surprised. It looked ugly,” Vargas said about the gruesome cut.
El Bandido was originally slated to take on Orlando Salido in a rematch that same night on December 9 in Las Vegas. That fight was never finalized Salido who had plenty of options took on Mickey Roman and suffered a TKO loss as he retired following the fight. Vargas and his manager Ralph Heredia explained why they declined the rematch with Salido.“It was a decision I made with my team. After surgery it would have been a risky fight,” Vargas said. “Salido Roman was a war. I saw Salido drained and tired the day before at the weigh in,” Vargas added.
“Everybody wanted the Salido Vargas rematch Peter Nelson/HBO, the WBC, and the fans. As a manager, I was looking out for the best interest in my fighter but this fight wasn’t the right time, especially after a surgery. Do I want to end his career? No. I want to preserve his career,” Vargas’s manager Ralph Heredia told Fightnews.com “I know Salido’s manager Sean Gibbons said that I ended Vargas’s career all because we didn’t fight the rematch. It’s not my style to talk but he (Gibbons) went out of his way to talk about me.
“I just don’t understand why he would turn down a $750,000 fight, to a guy you beat. Even if you lose there is still a paycheck for another fight. If he was that brilliant, he would have fought Lomachenko for more money. How do you do that as a manager? After all, he is a guru and according to him (Gibbons) I am the one that finished Vargas’s career,”
With Salido officially retired or semi-retired, Vargas and his team look to get back in the ring soon and get the rematch with Miguel Berchelt. It was early this year in late January, Vargas was stopped in the eleventh as he relinquished the WBC super featherweight title and suffered his first loss.
“I was coming off a lot of wars and I never had time to recover. I want the rematch with Berchelt. He gave me my first loss and he took my title. I want the rematch. Just like I gave him a shot,” Vargas explained. “The difference here will be that I have a new trainer and there would be a different strategy,” Vargas added.
“Our goal is to fight the rematch with Berchelt,” Ralph Heredia said.
In the meantime Berchelt is scheduled to fight a mandatory against Mickey Roman in the spring and Vargas looks to stay active in route to a potential rematch.
“We are looking to return in March to stay active. Next year we are coming strong and ready to win that title back,” Vargas said. “If all goes well in Berchelt’s next fight in February or March. We want the rematch,” Vargas concluded.
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