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Jessie Vargas plans on Stopping Sadam Ali tonight

Latest(Photo: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy) By Dan Ambrose: Not known for his punching power, #4 WBO Jessie Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) is surprisingly looking for a knockout in his fight tonight against #1 WBO Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 KOs) on HBO World Boxing from the DC Armory in Washington, DC.

Vargas and Ali will be battling it out for Tim Bradley’s recently vacated WBO welterweight title. With how limited looking both of these contenders are, it’s a wonderment that they’ll be fighting for the WBO 147lb title, because there are a number of contenders that would likely beat both of these guys with no problems.

Vargas, 26, lost his last fight against Bradley last June in a one-sided 12 round decision loss. Vargas is with Top Rank. Instead of getting back in the line to wait his turn, Vargas is getting another shot at winning the WBO title. If he comes up empty tonight, then he might need to actually beat some guys to earn another chance instead of having it given to him without doing anything other than losing.

“I’m coming back with rage into this fight,” Vargas said via Fightnews.com. “I have that fire that I just want to destroy any opponent that’s in front of me, not wait until the last round or not let any second, any minute of the fight just go. I’m planning on fighting the entire fight! And I’m planning on making Sadam Ali quit. That’s my goal, and I plan to achieve it.”

Vargas has no punching power whatsoever, and it’s going to be very tough for him to accomplish the things that he says he’ll be doing. While Vargas did hurt Bradley in the 12th round after loading up with a right hand, he’s not capable of throwing punches like that without REALLY loading up.

The problem with Vargas needing to reach all the way back to the floor to try and get a little power on his shots, it leaves him vulnerable to getting hit while throwing his shots or immediately after. Vargas isn’t like Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman by being able to punch very hard without having to load up.

Ali, 27, has the far better boxing skills and a little bit better power than Vargas. Ali has the pedigree in this fight, as he’s a 2012 Olympian with extraordinary skills. Ali isn’t a huge puncher though, but he’s got plenty power to hurt someone like Vargas if he can land enough shots. Ali recently stopped Luis Carlos Abregu in the 9th round in 2014.

Last year, Ali defeated Francisco Santana by a 10 round unanimous decision in April 2015. If there’s anything negative about Ali’s situation going into tonight’s fight is the fact that he’s been inactive for the past 11 months. That’s a long time to be out of the ring, and you don’t like to see fighters coming back after that long of a layoff unless they’re heading into a tune-up fight to sharpen up their skills and get the rusty out.

Ali isn’t doing that. He’s facing a good former WBA light welterweight champion in Vargas. Granted, Vargas was little more than a paper champion at 140 when he held the WBA title, but he was still a decent fighter. A lot of boxing fans felt that Vargas’ 12 round decision win over Khabib Allakhverdiev to win the WBA title in 204 was a controversial one. Many fans also think Vargas deserved a loss in his title defense against Anton Novikov in September 2014. Vargas was given a 12 round decision win in that fight.

I had Vargas losing to both Novikov and Allakhverdiev. Vargas also didn’t look good in his 12 round decision win over Antonio DeMarco in November 2014. Vargas clearly won that fight, but it was still a close decision and it showed how limited Vargas is. Last year, Vargas fought only once in losing a lopsided 12 round decision to Bradley.

“He’s not on my level. And I’m here to show this on fight day,” said Vargas. “I’m here to prove that he’s not on my level. Of course I’m saying it, but I’m going to prove it that night as well. It’s just two different breeds, and March 5th I’m going to show it.”

Vargas doesn’t have the kind of talent needed for him to say any contender is not on his level. I think Ali is more than on his level.

If Vargas can win the WBO title tonight, he could hold onto it for a little while. I suspect Vargas’ promoter Bob Arum will have Vargas keep the WBO title warm until Terence Crawford moves up in weight to fight him for the belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if Crawford moves up quickly to fight Vargas if he can pick up the WBO 147lb title tonight.

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