Fernando Vargas
Vargas in 2005
Real nameFernando Javier Vargas
  • El Feroz
  • The Aztec Warrior
  • Ferocious
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)[1]
Reach74 in (188 cm)[1]
Born (1977-12-07) December 7, 1977 (age 45)
Oxnard, California, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights31
Wins by KO22

Fernando Javier Vargas (born December 7, 1977) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1997 to 2007. He was a two-time light middleweight world champion, having held the IBF title from 1998 to 2000, and the WBA title from 2001 to 2002. As an amateur he won a bronze medal in the light welterweight division at the 1995 Pan American Games, and reached the second round of the welterweight bracket at the 1996 Olympics.

Vargas is best known for his heated rivalries against Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Ricardo Mayorga.

Amateur career

In his youth Vargas compiled a remarkable amateur record of 100–5. In 1992, he won the 132 lb. championships at the Junior Olympics Box-Offs, and came in second at the Junior Olympics. In 1993, he captured the triple crown of amateur boxing: the Junior Olympics Box-Offs, the Junior Olympics, and the Junior Olympics International tournament. The following year he solidified his position as one of the premier amateur fighters in the world by winning the 132 lb gold medal at the Olympic Festival, seizing the U.S. Junior Championships at 132 lb, and by becoming the youngest fighter ever to win the U.S. Championships. In 1995, he was selected to the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.[2]

Vargas lost a controversial decision in the second round of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He was scheduled to turn pro in November 1996, however, while training for his debut bout he broke his right hand. Eager to turn pro and begin his march toward a world championship, Vargas "ferociously" followed his physical therapy program, and within five months he was ready for his professional debut.

Amateur achievements

  • Won the 132-lb Junior Olympics Box-Offs; came in second at the Junior Olympics (1992)
  • Won the Junior Olympics Box-Offs, the Junior Olympics, and the Junior Olympics International tournament (1993)
  • Won the 132-lb gold medal at the U.S. Olympic Festival (1994), seizing the U.S. Championships at 132 pounds, becoming the youngest boxer ever to win the U.S. Championships (Seniors).
  • Participated at the 1994 World Junior Championships, losing in the quarter-finals.
  • 1995 Pan American Games Bronze Medalist in Mar Del Plata (ARG)
  • Selected to the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, defeated Tengiz Meskhadze (Georgia) 10–4, but lost to Marian Simion (Romania) 7–8 in the second bout.[3]

Professional career

In his professional debut on March 25, 1997, Vargas crushed Jorge Morales in just 56 seconds. He quickly beat his next five opponents, spending only eight rounds in his first six bouts. By the time of his first world championship he won all his 14 bouts by knockout. He won his first world title in 1998, knocking out Yori Boy Campas in seven rounds for the IBF light middleweight championship. Vargas successfully defended the title throughout 1999, with victories over Howard Clarke (TKO 4), Raúl Márquez (TKO 11), Winky Wright (MD 12), and Ike Quartey (UD 12).

Trinidad vs. Vargas

Vargas lost the title to Félix Trinidad in 2000. Vargas was knocked down twice in the first round, he was able to fight his way back by knocking down Trinidad in the fourth round until finally being knocked out in the 12th and final round.

Legal troubles

In 2001 Vargas was sentenced to 90 days in House Arrest stemming from a 1999 assault charge. Vargas and four friends were originally charged with assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime stemming from a July 25, 1999, altercation at a Summerland, California home. The defendants were accused of assaulting Doug Rossi, 23, who had broken up a fight between Vargas and a female friend's ex-boyfriend.

De La Hoya vs. Vargas

  • On September 14, 2002, Vargas surrendered his WBA title to Oscar De La Hoya in a historical light middleweight championship unification showdown that filled the Mandalay Bay Events Center to capacity and sold approximately one million pay-per-view buys.
  • In the early rounds Vargas bullied De La Hoya against the ropes and landed right hands to the head and body; however, in the middle and late rounds Vargas fatigued and De La Hoya's hand speed took over. After hurting Vargas at the end of round 10, De La Hoya dropped Vargas in the next round with a left hook to the head, and stopped him moments later with a flurry at the 1:48 mark of the round.
  • During the mandatory drug testing after the de la Hoya fight, Vargas tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol better known as Winstrol. Vargas said the steroids were given to him without his knowledge, but he accepted full responsibility. The Nevada Athletic Commission announced on November 20, 2002, that it would fine Vargas $100,000 because of his use of steroids. Fernando Vargas was suspended for nine months.

Comeback trail

Despite these problems, Fernando remained an accessible and popular celebrity, known for signing many autographs. After his knockout win over Fitz Vanderpool on July 26, 2003, he stood in a corner and yelled "I love you guys!" to his fans. Vargas continued his comeback, on December 12, with a seventh-round knockout of Tony Marshall that was shown live nationwide from Tucson, on TeleFutura. During that fight, Vargas injured a disc in his back, and his doctor recommended surgery, but Vargas chose to rehabilitate his back himself without having the procedure. This caused him to spend almost two years in inactivity, but, on March 26, 2005, he returned to boxing with a ten-round unanimous decision win over Ray Joval in Corpus Christi, Texas.

On August 20, 2005, he returned to the boxing ring to fight fellow former world light middleweight champion Javier Castillejo of Spain. Vargas dropped Castillejo in the third round, but he apparently broke his right hand and went on to win by a ten-round unanimous decision.

Mosley vs. Vargas I & II

On February 25, 2006, Vargas once again returned to the ring to face fellow Southern California boxer Sugar Shane Mosley. In a tightly contested battle, Vargas' left eye became grotesquely swollen and referee Joe Cortez decided to stop the fight in the 10th round to minimize further damage, granting a technical knockout (TKO) victory to Mosley. The reasoning behind the stoppage, explained Nevada State Athletic Commission czar Marc Ratner, was that the referee and the fight doctor deemed that Vargas was unable to defend himself adequately against Mosley's right-hand shots. At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Mosley winning the fight 86–85. One judge had Vargas winning the fight 86–85. Fightnews.com had the bout scored 86-85 for Mosley. In the post fight press conference, Vargas made it clear that he would resume his boxing career and stated that a rematch with Mosley should be in order because the match was stopped on a technicality. ESPN boxing expert Dan Rafael wrote: "Vargas is so utterly delusional about what actually happened in his first fight with Mosley that we think he might have a concussion. When will he stop lying to himself -- and when will his team stop going along with him? He needs to admit that: (a) The swelling around his eye was caused by a clean punch, not a headbutt; and (b) He was not winning the fight when it was stopped in the 10th round."

In their highly anticipated July 15, 2006, rematch, Vargas was stopped in the 6th round via TKO. When the sixth round began, Mosley landed a huge left hook that sent Vargas crashing to the canvas. Vargas rolled over onto all fours and was unsteady, but after stumbling twice he finally beat referee Kenny Bayless' count. Moments later, Mosley unleashed another flurry as Vargas could only protect his face, and the referee stopped the fight at 2:38 as a beaten and disoriented Vargas staggered back to his corner.

Showdown with Ricardo Mayorga

It was confirmed on May 13, 2007, that Vargas would face Ricardo Mayorga on September 8, 2007, on Showtime PPV for the vacant WBC Continental Americas super middleweight title. However the fight was postponed after it was discovered during a routine blood test that Vargas was suffering from a severe iron deficiency. Doctors ordered Vargas not to participate in the upcoming bout until he received the necessary weeks of treatment to correct the problem. When the bout eventually took place it would be fought at 162 pounds, a weight that neither boxer has ever fought at. Many sources claim that Vargas had complained about fighting at the Jr. Middleweight limit of 154 pounds, stating that it's "too much for his body to take". Vargas has stated that fighting at that weight was the reason he did poorly against Mosley in the second fight.[4]

Vargas claimed that this would be the last fight of his career regardless of the result. He warned Mayorga that he would not tolerate any insults from him like the ones he hurled at Oscar De La Hoya in their press conferences. Vargas stayed true to his promise when at the first official press conference for the fight, Mayorga said some offensive things towards Vargas and attempted to slap him. Vargas immediately jumped up from his seat and retaliated with punches and a brawl broke out between the two fighters' camps, though order was quickly restored. Vargas also recalled the time when Mayorga said Vargas was scared of him when he had defeated Javier Castillejo, then was stripped of his WBC light middleweight title rather than face Mayorga, who then defeated Michele Piccirillo for the vacant title. Ultimately the contestants faced off, and Mayorga defeated Vargas by majority decision on November 23, 2007. The scores were 113-113, 114–112, and 115–111. Crucially, Vargas was knocked down in the 1st round and again in the 11th round. Post-fight Ricardo Mayorga apologized to Vargas and the two forgave each other. Vargas officially declared his retirement soon after.

Cancelled return to boxing in 2011

It was confirmed that after a three-year hiatus, former world champion Fernando Vargas would return to the boxing ring against super middleweight Henry Buchanan on April 16, 2011, at Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. However, the fight was canceled for unknown reasons.[5]

Acting career

Vargas had a role in the Crime Drama film Alpha Dog where he played Tiko "TKO" Martinez.[6] Vargas also plays an unnamed guest star on the television show Moesha. Season 2 Episode 3 titled "Mama said knock you out."

Reality television series

In 2014, Vargas and his family became the subjects of a reality show on Mun2 television station, Welcome to Los Vargas.[7] He also participated, alongside Judith Grace, Maripily, Pedro Rivera and Sissi Fleitas, among others, in the Telemundo reality contest, Top Chef Celebrity.[8]

Professional boxing record

31 fights 26 wins 5 losses
By knockout 22 4
By decision 4 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
31 Loss 26–5 Ricardo Mayorga MD 12 November 23, 2007 Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, U.S. For vacant WBC Continental Americas super middleweight title
30 Loss 26–4 Shane Mosley TKO 6 (12), 2:38 July 15, 2006 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
29 Loss 26–3 Shane Mosley TKO 10 (12), 1:22 February 25, 2006 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
28 Win 26–2 Javier Castillejo UD 10 August 20, 2005 Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois, U.S.
27 Win 25–2 Raymond Joval UD 10 March 26, 2005 American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
26 Win 24–2 Tony Marshall RTD 7 (10), 3:00 December 12, 2003 Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
25 Win 23–2 Fitz Vanderpool TKO 6 (10), 2:36 July 26, 2003 Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
24 Loss 22–2 Oscar De La Hoya TKO 11 (12), 1:48 Sep 14, 2002 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Lost WBA and IBA light middleweight titles;
For WBC and vacant The Ring light middleweight titles
23 Win 22–1 Jose Flores KO 7 (12), 2:59 September 22, 2001 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won vacant WBA and IBA light middleweight titles
22 Win 21–1 Wilfredo Rivera TKO 6 (10), 0:39 May 5, 2001 Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas, U.S.
21 Loss 20–1 Félix Trinidad TKO 12 (12), 1:33 December 2, 2000 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Lost IBF light middleweight title;
For WBA light middleweight title
20 Win 20–0 Ross Thompson TKO 4 (12), 1:07 August 26, 2000 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained IBF light middleweight title
19 Win 19–0 Ike Quartey UD 12 April 15, 2000 Mandalay Bay Events Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained IBF light middleweight title
18 Win 18–0 Winky Wright MD 12 December 4, 1999 Chinook Winds Casino, Lincoln City, Oregon, U.S. Retained IBF light middleweight title
17 Win 17–0 Raúl Márquez TKO 11 (12), 2:00 July 17, 1999 Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S. Retained IBF light middleweight title
16 Win 16–0 Howard Clarke TKO 4 (12), 2:29 Mar 13, 1999 Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Retained IBF light middleweight title
15 Win 15–0 Yori Boy Campas RTD 7 (12), 3:00 December 12, 1998 Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won IBF light middleweight title
14 Win 14–0 Darren Maciunski TKO 6 (10), 2:57 August 22, 1998 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 Anthony Stephens TKO 5 (10), 2:33 June 23, 1998 The Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 Ron Johnson TKO 4 (10), 2:40 May 9, 1998 ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 Romallis Ellis TKO 2 (10), 1:56 April 14, 1998 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 Dan Connolly TKO 2 (10), 0:40 March 13, 1998 Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, Miami, Florida, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 Eduardo Martinez KO 2 December 13, 1997 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 Jose Miguel Fernandez TKO 1 (8), 2:56 November 22, 1997 Etess Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 Alex Quiroga TKO 6 (8), 2:53 Oct 4, 1997 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 Kevin Payne TKO 1 (4), 1:47 August 19, 1997 Convention Center, Austin, Texas, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 Eugene Lopez KO 1 (6), 1:42 Jul 12, 1997 Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 Jim Maloney KO 1 June 20, 1997 Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 Bill Burden TKO 2 (6), 2:29 June 7, 1997 ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 Claude Staten TKO 2 (4), 1:24 April 26, 1997 Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 Jorge Morales KO 1 (4), 0:56 March 25, 1997 Civic Auditorium, Oxnard, California, U.S.

Pay-per-view bouts

Date Fight Billing Buys Network
December 2, 2000
Trinidad vs. Vargas Forces of Destruction 520,000 HBO
September 14, 2002
De La Hoya vs. Vargas Bad Blood 935,000[9] HBO

See also


  1. ^ a b HBO Sports tale of the tape prior to the Oscar De La Hoya fight.
  2. ^ Fernando Vargas. boxrec.com
  3. ^ Fernando Vargas Archived January 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. sports-reference.com
  4. ^ "News Lib - Tech Magazine". fernando-vargas-news.newslib.com.
  5. ^ Brett Okamoto (January 28, 2011) Fernando Vargas to make comeback. sports.espn.go.com
  6. ^ "Vargas Proud To Be An "Alpha Dog"". Boxing Scene. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  7. ^ ""Welcome to Los Vargas" as The Hispanic Celebrity Reality TV Series Follows 3-Time World Boxing Champion Fernando Vargas". www.vegasnews.com. January 9, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  8. ^ "Fernando Vargas admite que esta feliz con su eliminación (VIDEO)".
  9. ^ Pay-Per-View History at about.com

External links

Sporting positions
Minor world boxing titles
Title last held by
Santos Cardona
IBA light middleweight champion
September 22, 2001 – September 14, 2002
Succeeded by
Major world boxing titles
Preceded by IBF light middleweight champion
December 12, 1998 – December 2, 2000
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Félix Trinidad
WBA light middleweight champion
September 22, 2001 – September 14, 2002
Lost bid for Super title
Succeeded by
Oscar De La Hoya
as Super champion