Questions Remain But Vargas Comes Out On Top; Soto Upsets Juarez
By Chris Robinson (August 21, 2005)
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It wasn’t we had hoped for or what many were expecting to see, but ‘Ferocious’ Fernando Vargas got the job done tonight against former champion Javier Castillejo, winning a clear-cut unanimous decision over the Spaniard. From the opening frame it was evident that Vargas had picked up where he left off in his last fight against Raymond Joval, patiently moving and boxing while placing a strong emphasis on defense throughout. It didn’t make for great action or high drama but Vargas came to get the win and he did just that. The scorecards read 97-72 twice and 98-92 for the Oxnard, California native.

When I think of Vargas at his best I see images of the man who out gutted Ike Quartey and punished Raul Marquez with his strength and power. The man in the ring tonight seems to be a far cry from that fighter and despite being only 27 years old, he simply seems past it in some regards. The good news is that Vargas did come out on top, and he did show flashes of dominance tonight, dropping his man in the third and working the body like a true pro. He’s a fighter at heart and it’s evident that Fernando still wants it, but something seems to be missing and I can only hope that he gets it back.

With the win Vargas keeps his hopes of regaining championship glory alive. Word is that a showdown with Oscar de la Hoya could be in the works for next Cinco De Mayo and with his passion for the game one could never count Vargas out of a match-up like that. A meeting with newly crowned WBC champion Ricardo Mayorga would surely produce fireworks but that simply doesn’t appear to be on Team Vargas' menu at the moment. It will be interesting to see where ‘El Feroz’ goes from here. He might not be the fighter he once was but he hasn’t lost his heart and he might just have a few more great efforts left in him.

On the undercard we were treated to a dandy of a scrap, as late replacement Humberto Soto upset rising Featherweight Rocky Juarez over twelve entertaining rounds. It was quite the turn of events for Juarez, who first saw a title shot dissolve when WBC champion In Jin Chi pulled out of their scheduled bout weeks ago, and then saw his undefeated record go out the window tonight against Soto’s relentless assault.

Soto came to the dance unfazed by the 2000 Olympian’s pedigree, using his height to keep distance and his jab to set the tone early. At 5’ 4" Juarez was having trouble getting on the inside and through the first six rounds Soto had built up a comfortable lead. Juarez’s short left hooks that have left previous opponents concussed were having no effect on Soto.

With the fight slipping away Juarez needed something drastic and he did his best to make it happen. He stepped up his punch output and jarred Soto late in the 8th, prompting the crowd in Chicago to roar. In rounds nine and ten Soto would lose a point for hitting behind the head and the scorecards tightened. The victory seemed in reach for Juarez but Soto held his own down the championship rounds. As the 12th round came to a close both fighters let everything go and the crowd showed their approval. Both men raised their hands in the air but the scores of 114-113, 114-113, and 114-112 favored only one man, Humberto Armando Soto.

With the upset win, things look bright for Soto and his style is pleasing to the eye. He was one of Erik Morales’ chief sparring partners for a year and you can see both Morales’ relentlessness and chinmanship in Soto’s game. For Juarez things have taken a rough turn, but he can hold his head high. He found himself backed up against a wall tonight and came out fighting. Despite the loss he showed great heart and his punches would have dropped several other fighters. At only 25 years of age, he will be back.

All in all a fairly eventful night of boxing on HBO and we should be hearing more from three of the evening’s participants. Juarez and Soto will make for exciting fights against several of the world’s top featherweights while Fernando Vargas will always make for intrigue in one form or another.
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