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Jessie Vargas says Humberto Soto might retire after losing to him

Humberto Soto Jessie Vargas

By Mark Eisner: Jessie Vargas (28-2-2,10 KOs) is starting out what he hopes will lead him to a third division world title when he faces 38-year-old Humberto “La Zorrita’ Soto (69-9-2, 37 KOs) in a catch-weight fight at 151 pounds on the undercard of the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada rematch on DAZN on April 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

Vargas came up empty in his last two fights against Adrien Broner and Thomas Dulorme, fighting to a pair of 12 round draws against them in 2018. Those were fights that were even affairs in which neither fighter got the better of the action. Vargas labored in both fights, and was beaten to the punch by Broner and Dulorme. It obviously doesn’t look good that Vargas couldn’t defeat fighters that that level. Without proving that he can beat those gatekeeper level welterweights, Vargas now wants to move up to 154 to try and capture a world title. One can argue that if Vargas can’t beat Dulorme and Broner at 147, what chance does he have in moving up to 154 to attempt to defeat WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia? Vargas might not even get passed Humberto Soto on April 26. A loss to Soto would be a clear sign that Vargas needs to think about retiring or at least scaling back his career ambitions.

The Vargas vs. Soto fight is scheduled for 10 rounds. Also on the card is the unification fight between WBA super bantamweight champion Daniel Roman and IBF champion TJ Doheny.

Vargas, 29, says a decisive win over the older former two division world champion Soto could send him into retirement. Vargas says that Soto has been a lot of wars during his long 22-year pro career, but keeps giving his Mexican boxing fans entertaining matches, so they keep keep asking for more. Recently, Soto pulled off a big upset in beating former WBA lightweight Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (35-5-1, 26 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision on February 23 in Tijuana, Mexico.

Rios, 32, had recently been signed by Matchroom Boxing USA, and they had plans on building him up for a world title shot at welterweight. Despite being the smaller, weaker, and older fighter, Soto used his superior boxing skill to defeat Rios by the scores s 119-111, 118-112 and 118-112. Matchroom’s plans of rebuilding Rios’ career for one more world title shot went down the drain. Mathcroom signed Vargas, another fighter that is essentially in the same position Rios is in career-rise, and they’re hoping to rebuild his career to put Vargas in with WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia for a title shot. They were hoping to get Vargas a fight against Kell Brook recently, but the British fighter chose not to take the fight with him.

“My opponent is Humberto Soto, the guy that just beat Brandon Rios in a great, exciting fight,” Vargas said to Fighthub. “He called me out immediately after the fight. I accepted the challenge, and we have two weeks before the fight. I’m looking forward to giving the fans a great night of boxing. My plan is to defeat him, and look good doing it, and show I’m on my way to becoming a super welterweight champion,” Vargas said.

Vargas’ choice of a fighter that has spent most of his career at super featherweight for his next fight is an unusual approach to going after a world title at junior middleweight. Normally when a fighter is attempting to capture a world title in a new division, they fight quality fighters from that division. Vargas is going about it in a somewhat backwards way in selecting a fighter that pushing 40-years-old, and has spent most of his career at 130. For Vargas to give himself a fighting chance of succeeding at 154, he should look to fight someone from either the 154 or 147 pound division. Yeah, we know that Soto is now fighting at 147, but his frame isn’t that of a true welterweight. Soto looks like a super featherweight that has eaten his way to 147.

Matchroom might whiff on turning Vargas into a world champion in the same way that they did in attempting to resurrect Brandon Rios’ career. Vargas hasn’t won a fight in two years since 2017, when he beat journeyman Arron Herrera by a 10 round unanimous decision in December 2017. That’s a long time ago, and that’s not a quality opponent. Vargas’s last victory over a quality opponent was his ninth round TKO win over Sadam Ali in March 2016. Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn might have made the wrong choice in selecting Vargas thinking he’ll become a world champion for him. Sure, Hearn can stick Vargas in with WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs), but he’s likely going to lose that fight.

“What happens to Humberto Soto,that’s entirely up to him,” Vargas said. “I do look forward to coming out victorious with an impressive victory. If that sends him into retirement, then that shall be. He’s an older fight, that’s exactly what you’re saying. He’s an older veteran that’s been through it all. He’s been in war after war after war. That makes retirement possible after a devastating defeat. After a devastating defeat comes in, he may retire. The reason he hasn’t is because he keeps giving fans those entertaining wars. They’re going to keep asking for more. That’s why he’s being put in with me on April 26. We’re going to give the fans a great fight. Will he retire after April 26th? Who knows? I know it’s going to be entertaining. It’ll be a perfect way for me to start off my campaign at 154, period. The fight is at 151, but I’m going to be campaigning at 154. So it’ll be a great way to begin this journey,” Vargas said.

It’ll be interesting to see if Vargas can win this fight, because he’s not shown the kind of talent that Soto has in winning world titles. Vargas captured his two division world titles beating these fighters:

– Khabib Allakhverdiev: WBA light welterweight

– Sadam Ali: WBO welterweight

Vargas’ win over Allakhverdiev in 2014 was a close 12 round unanimous decision victory that could have gone the other way. In other word, it wasn’t a decisive victory for Vargas. Boxing News 24 had Allakhverdiev winning that fight. Vargas was getting hit a lot, and not looking at all good.

Soto beat these fighters to capture his two division world titles:

– Francisco Lorenzo: WBC super featherweight title

– David Diaz: WBC lightweight title

It seems obvious that Soto’s two division world titles came against the better fighters than what Vargas beat to win his two division titles.

If Vargas loses this fight to Soto, Matchroom is going to need to figure what they can do with him. Do they cut Vargas adrift at that point, or do they attempt to bring him back down to 147 to see if they can ramp him up for a world title shot in that weight class? It’s a bad sign that Vargas can’t even beat Broner or Dulorme at welterweight. If you can’t beat those kind of guys, you don’t really belong fighting for world titles at welterweight. Matchroom has the money to get Vargas a title shot at 147, but what’s the point if he has no chance of winning against any of the belt holders?

“I like Crawford in that fight,” Vargas said in predicting a victory for Terence Crawford if/when he fights IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. one of these days. “I know him [Crawford]. I came up with him in the amateurs. I could see him winning that fight [against Spence]. I think he’s faster and more explosive. All around, he’s a better fighter than Spence in my opinion,” Vargas said.

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