Olympian Devin Vargas Returns to Action at Howard’s Beach 9/30!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 29, 2009)    
One of the most decorated amateurs in recent years, Devin Vargas, 17-1 (7), who represented the USA in the 2004 Olympics headlines against Terrell “Baby Bull” Nelson, 8-8 (5), in the main event Wednesday at Russo’s On The Bay, Howard Beach, New York. This is a Joe DeGuardia Star Boxing Promotion that will also mark the return of one of Vargas’ 2004 teammates, Roberto Benitez, 5-0 (3), after a 3 year lay-off.

Vargas ran off 17 straight wins from November of 2004 to March of this year. He then took a major step up against one of the top heavyweight contender’s in Kevin Johnson, 21-0-1, at the time. He was to be fighting the former heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon on the card when Monte Barrett pulled out against Johnson. Vargas was to have his first 10 rounder that night but fought someone with a completely different style. He did fine until the 3rd round when Johnson’s slapping left hooks caused a hole in the ear drum of Vargas. He had problems with his balance from then on until the fight was stopped. He certainly had a champion’s heart which says a lot for his future. “I felt I won the first 3 rounds and had him in trouble. I couldn’t keep my balance after the injury to my ear. In the 5th round I thought I was closer to the ropes in backing up to them when I went down,” said Vargas.

“With a couple of fights like this one coming up I would hope for a rematch down the line, but that doesn’t always happen,” added Vargas. Johnson acknowledged to this writer after the fight that Vargas had power in his punches. Nelson is known to be a very durable and roughed fighter that should make for a good fight with Vargas. “I want to use this fight to get my confidence back and start rolling again. It took 7 weeks for my ear to heal,” said Vargas.
Vargas was the 2000 and 2001 National Golden Glove champion. In 2003 he was the US Champion and in 2004 member of the Olympic team that went to Greece. He is trained by his father, Ray, and Tom Urbina at the Glass City Boxing Gym, in Toledo, Ohio, along with his brother Dallas, 22-4 (16). In order to gain a birth on the 2004 team Vargas had to beat Matt Godfrey and Chazz Witherspoon. He has been in with some of the top amateurs in the country like Arthur Palac and Anthony Stewart. He had suffered two losses to Kertson Manswell, 18-0 (15), of Trinidad and Tobago. In order to qualify for the Olympics he had to defeat Manswell in their third meeting and did. “He knew how the scoring system worked, but I was ready for him in that last meeting,” said Vargas. He would be team captain of the USA boxers. In the 1st round of the Olympics he stopped the current French cruiserweight champion Rachid El Haddak, of Morroco. In the next round he suffered a defeat to Viktar Zuyev of Belarus. I asked him if defeating Yevgeniy Shishporeenok, 6-0, then, from Belarus, in March of this year was a reflection on the fellow countryman he lost to in the Olympics and he acknowledged it was. Vargas was outweighed by almost 60 pounds in that fight. Earlier in his career he defeated David Saulsberry, 5-1, then, who outweighed him by 70 pounds and Andrew Solano, who was debuting in Vargas’ third fight who outweighed him by over 60 pounds. Even though he is 6:03 he usually comes in at 225-230 and for the most part is the lighter boxer.

Vargas is a very likeable, family man. He and his wife Megan have four sons and I didn’t ask him if they were going to box, but I have a feeling it just may happen since his brother boxes and his father is his trainer. “Cristobal Arreola defeated my brother at the 2001 Golden Gloves Nationals (at 178),” said Vargas. The 250 pound Arreola just challenged Vitaly Klitchko for his title last Saturday. “I would like to meet him in the future. I split with Godfrey and beat Witherspoon in the box-off,” added Vargas. It was great discussing the many boxers I know that Vargas had shared the stage with. His goal now is to make the same impression on the professional ranks he did in the amateurs. He has a good outlook and plenty of experience behind him while being a thinking boxer with a good punch. I believe it is just a temporary bump in the road meeting Johnson a little ahead of time.

Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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