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Francisco Vargas vs. Stephen Smith this Sat. on HBO

Image: Francisco Vargas vs. Stephen Smith this Sat. on HBO

By Tim Royner: Former WBC super featherweight champion Francisco ‘El Bandido’ Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KOs) will be back in action this Saturday night on December 9 on HBO Boxing against #9 WBC Stephen ‘Swifty’ Smith (25-3, 15 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sky Sports will be televising the Vargas vs. Smith fight in the UK.

Vargas-Smith is taking place on the undercard of the Orlando Salido vs. Miguel ‘Mickey’ Roman card. The HBO televised card has a start time of 10:00 p.m. ET.

#2 WBC Vargas was beaten in his last fight by Miguel Berchelt by an 11th round knockout on January 28 in Indio, California. In that defeat, the 32-year-old Vargas lost his WBC World super featherweight title. He’s been out of the ring for the last 11 months. It was good for Vargas to rest up, as he had been involved in 3 consecutive grueling fights against Berchelt, Orlando Salido and Takashi Miura. It was a good time for Vargas to take a break from tough fights to recover a little.

Smith, 32, is coming off of a 1st round knockout win over Karoly Gallovich on June 17. Before that fight, Smith had been beaten by former WBA World super featherweight champion Jason Sosa by a 12 round unanimous decision last year on November 12. Sosa knocked Smith down in round 2 of that fight, and cruised to a victory in winning by the scores 117-110, 116-112 and 116-111. In 2016, Smith was also beaten by former IBF World super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza by a 12 round unanimous decision on April 16. It was a bad year for Smith with him losing twice. It was a case of Smith fighting guys that were a little too good for his skillset to overcome their obvious talent.

“I’m not stupid. I know I’m not going to hang around, go back to British level and try and win a British title again,” said Smith to “I’ve done that twice. I want to try and win a world title, that’s my goal, and if I can’t do that, then I’ll be done in boxing,” said Smith.

Smith could be catching the 2008 Mexican Olympian Vargas at the right time in his 7-year pro career. Vargas took a lot of punishment in his fight with Salido last year, and he didn’t look like the same guy when he fought Berchelt last January. If Smith can use his jab and his boxing skills the way that Berchelt did, he could box his way to a 12 round decision or possibly get a stoppage late in the fight. Either way, it’s going to be a grueling match. Smith won’t get an easy win over Vargas, as he’s still one of the best fighters in the 130 lb. division at this time. The only question is does Smith have enough talent to beat the slightly battle worn Vargas.

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