Vargas Victorious in Comeback Despite Joval's Spirited Effort
By Oleg Bershadsky (March 27, 2005) 
Photos © German Villasenor
After a fifteen month long lay off due to a career threatening back injury Fernando Vargas stepped back into the ring this Saturday night in an effort to rejuvenate his career. The jovial crowd on hand at Corpus Christi, Texas welcomed Vargas from his long hiatus and he in return gave them a solid performance in the ring. What on paper looked to be a safe and easy fight for Vargas quickly turned into a tightly contested battle as Raymond Joval showed that he came to fight.

In the early stages of the fight Joval pressed Vargas, determined to test his stamina and to perhaps try to take advantage of any perceived ring rust Vargas may have had due to his long layoff. Joval used good foot movement to push Vargas back, however, his punch output although impressive in its volume, lacked accuracy and power. Joval was by far the more active fighter, constantly keeping busy and never seizing to throw punches, which although abundant were slow and not very effective.

Vargas on the other hand showed much improved defense and self control as he kept his hands up and his chin tucked in for the entire fight. Vargas fought a very strategic fight, preferring to counterpunch and not to take any risks by allowing himself to deviate from his game-plan. It was obvious that Fernando was trying hard to box and avoid a strong natural urge within him to mix it up with his less powerful adversary. But nevertheless he stuck to the plan laid out for him by his corner and with almost mechanical consistency began to slowly dismantle his opponent. Vargas simply used selective counter punching and did so with amazing accuracy, managing to land at a very high connect percentage. The Vargas’ left hook seemed to be his most effective weapon as he seemed to hurt Joval with it several times.

For most of the fight it was Joval’s volume punching vs. Vargas’ more accurate and harder shots. In round 8, the momentum shifted for good in Vargas' favor when Joval received a cut over his left eye as a result of a Vargas right hand. Zeroing in on the cut, Vargas pounded his opponent with clean right hands, easily dominating the round. In the last two rounds Vargas stayed under control refusing to get careless and following his corner’s instructions to the letter. In the end, Vargas’ accuracy and power proved no match for Joval’s work ethic and volume punching. The final particulars were: Vargas winner by unanimous decision (98-92, 96-94, 97-93).

As Harold Lederman always says, it is ring generalship and effective aggressiveness that wins fights. While Joval certainly controlled the pace early on he failed to land any meaningful punches and his accuracy left a lot to be desired. Vargas on the other hand picked his spots and was very effective with his accurate counterpunching. In this fight Joval gave a great performance and showed a good chin and stamina. In return Vargas showed that he has the ability to adopt a different style and stay under control in the ring. More importantly his back seemed to not bother him at all and that was a positive sign for both the fighter and his fans. While Vargas stuck to his strategy with utmost diligence he neglected the part of his boxing that made him great. Perhaps in future fights he can blend his warrior style of the past with the boxer style of the present. Overall a solid performance by Vargas, showing that he is officially BACK!

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