Photos: Will Hart
by Kieran Mulvaney
At one point in round 11, junior welterweight Jessie Vargas channeled new trainer Roy Jones Jr. to perfection: standing in front of his opponent in a crouch, hands held low, he launched a lead right hand from a distance, and it crunched into his foe’s face, snapping back his head. By mimicking the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Vargas was able to regain firm control of a bout that was in danger of slipping away from him, and ultimately was able to do something that his chief second rarely if ever had to do during his professional career: gut out a tough and gritty win against a dangerous opponent.
After a quiet opening round, and a second that opponent Antonio DeMarco may have shaded with greater activity, Vargas seized control of the contest in the third round: finding his range, doubling over DeMarco with body shots and then launching uppercuts to the head. Although both men threw hard combinations over the next several frames, Vargas was in the ascendant. Then, in the seventh, a sharp combination from DeMarco stunned Vargas and seemed to have him out on his feet until a follow-up combination woke him up. The ninth saw DeMarco rock Vargas some more; both men were bruised, swollen and bloodied, and Vargas was throwing enough to stay in the fight, but DeMarco’s punches were the shorter and sharper.
Then Vargas found his second wind in the eleventh, and closed the show in the twelfth, earning a 116-112 decision across the board. Vargas remains unbeaten at 26-0 (9KOs); DeMarco falls to 31-4-1, with 23 KOs.