Arum wants Jessie Vargas vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
By Dan Ambrose: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is interested in matching 42-year-old former four division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs) against his new WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs).
Arum is trying to turn the 26-year-old Vargas into a star. Marquez has wanted to capture a welterweight title for some time, and has failed in his two attempts at winning the title. Marquez was arguably robbed in his fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2011, and then beaten by Tim Bradley in 2013 in his second attempt to win a 147lb title.
Arum wants to match Vargas against the winner of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley fight. However, Pacquiao plans on retiring after his April 9 fight with Bradley, so that leaves only Bradley for Vargas.
That doesn’t bother Vargas any because that’s exactly who he wants to fight. Vargas was beaten by Bradley last year in June by a 12 round decision. In the 12th, Vargas had Bradley badly hurt. He didn’t get the knockout though, as the referee stopped the fight thinking it was over.
“I’d like for Vargas to fight him,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “It would be a big name for Jessie to fight and it would give Marquez the chance at the title he wants. So we’re going to talk about it but we still don’t know for sure if Marquez will come back. But if he does, a fight with Vargas makes sense and it would be a good fight.”
I don’t think that Marquez is going to go for the idea of fighting Vargas. I think Vargas is more interested in a big money fight against Miguel Cotto right now rather than doing Arum a favor in fighting one of his paper champions. There’s no upside in Marquez fighting Vargas.
If Arum had floated the idea of Marquez fighting Vargas three years ago when Marquez was a little younger and very interested in winning fifth division world title, then I think he would have gone for the idea. However, Marquez seems more interested in getting one final big payday before retiring. He’ll get that payday against Cotto if he can get a fight against him later this year.
A fight against Vargas would give Marquez very little compared to the money he could get against Cotto. That’s why I don’t think Marquez will even entertain the thought of taking the Vargas fight for a second. If Arum wants to turn Vargas into a star, then he’s going to need to do it the hard way by having him face Bradley, Terence Crawford, Ruslan Provodnikov, Felix Verdejo, and Viktor Postol.
If Vargas can beat all of those fighters, then I think he’ll be one his way to stardom. Unfortunately for Arum, I see Vargas losing to all of them, even Provodnikov. Arum could try some desperate moves if he wants to make Vargas a star. He could have him move up to 164 and fight his unbeaten super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez at a catch-weight. That’s only 17 pounds’ difference between the two fighters if they face each other at a catch-weight. If Amir Khan can fight Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at a catch-weight for the WBC middleweight title, then Vargas can certainly move up to super middleweight to fight Ramirez.
Marquez has been out of action since beating Mike Alvarado by a 12 round decision win back in 2014. Marquez suffered a knee injury in that fight, and it’s kept him out of action ever since. Even now, it’s unclear what the state of Marquez’s knee is in. He’s supposed to be fighting a tune-up fight this summer against a weaker opponent.
It wouldn’t be surprising if he struggles to win that fight because I have a feeling that his knee problem is still very much there. If Marquez takes the fight with a less than 100% knee, he’s going to have some problems trying to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weak opponent. If Marquez’s knee isn’t 100 percent, he’s going to struggle.
Marquez’s career has really dropped off since his win over Manny Pacquiao in 2012. Marquez was supposed to retire after that fight, but instead he continued to fight and wound up losing to Bradley in 2013.
I think Arum needs to find more talented fighters than Vargas if he wants to try and turn them into stars, because I think Vargas is lacking. He’s seen by many boxing fans as the weak link among the welterweight champions right now. Arum isn’t going to be able to turn a flawed fighter like Vargas into a diamond. I don’t care how many old timers Arum puts Vargas in with. Boxing fans are impressed talent. When you have someone like Gennady Golovkin, the fans quickly show interest. But for a limited fighter like Vargas, I don’t see it happening for Arum. Vargas would need to find some punching power, hand speed and boxing ability to become a star, and he’s lacking in all those areas.