Did Jessie Vargas earn a Bradley rematch with the win over Sadam Ali?
By Hector Franco
This weekend in Washington D.C. it seems that Jessie Vargas has found redemption. Vargas was able to pull off an upset over Sadam Ali by stopping him in nine rounds. Most boxing fans had dismissed Vargas before the bout. Vargas was a fighter that was given opportunities to shine in the past, but could never put it all together. After many close encounters that could have gone either way and multiple changes in trainers, Vargas was starting to become less of a fan favorite. Boxing is a sport of “what have you done for me lately” and now that Vargas has finally gotten his marquee victory the welterweight division has gotten more interesting.
Fans who dismissed Vargas may have forgotten that although he didn’t win many fights impressively, Vargas was in many championship bouts that were competitive and went rounds. This gave him an advantage over Ali. Vargas’ experience trumped Ali’s talent. To go along with his experience Vargas has also found power in his overhand right. The Bradley bout it was seen in the last round. Against Sadam Ali, it was there all night.
What’s next for Vargas will be interesting. Vargas is on the Top Rank side of the fence in the welterweight division and as stated in his post fight interview his priority is to get a rematch with Timothy Bradley. Bradley has business to take care of with Manny Pacquiao on April 9th. Win or lose against Pacquiao, Bradley will still be in the same position concerning the promotional divide in the welterweight division. April 9th could be the last time we see Pacquiao in a boxing ring, but if it isn’t Vargas winning a title has opened the door for a matchup with the Filipino. Even if Bradley loses to Pacquiao, a Vargas rematch makes sense for both fighters.
It must be said that as of the last few weeks, promoter Bob Arum has been playing chess. Arum has made it clear that HBO isn’t the only network for Top Rank. Fights like Lomachenko-Walters may go to Showtime. Arum has said that he would be willing to negotiate a bout between Terence Crawford and Adrien Broner. This means that in the future Vargas may be available for unification bouts with the likes of Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman. To put it bluntly with the win over Sadam Ali Saturday night, Vargas has made himself a player at welterweight. Vargas has now made a rematch with Bradley viable.
Fans will remember that Bradley was clearly outpointing Vargas in their matchup. Now with the Ali bout behind him the idea that the right hand landed in the twelfth round was a lucky punch has gone out the window. Vargas is a fighter who needs to be pushed and constantly managed. New trainer Dewey Cooper showed that he can keep Vargas focused and motivated in a bout. The loss to Bradley may have been the best thing to happen to Vargas. His confidence against Ali was unseen beforehand in other bouts, as well as his ability to constantly keep a jab in Ali’s face. The jab was also used to feint for a left hook on Ali. After years of toiling in mediocrity, Vargas has found new wrinkles in his game.
Even though he would still be considered an underdog against the other top welterweights, it’s no longer a foregone conclusion to fans as to the outcome of those bouts. Vargas will want Bradley over any other opponent and has certainly earned the right to call out Bradley. As to a rematch actually taking place, we’ll have to wait until April 9th to see how Bradley performs against Pacquiao. Either way now a rematch is something fans can look forward to watching in the future.