By Diego Morilla
Throughout their careers, boxers retain the basic traits of their style as years go by, improving upon the basic blueprint of their pugilistic DNA as they move along but always keeping their core stylistic trademarks.
And on March 12th, Mexico's Francisco "El Bandido" Vargas (21-0-1, 15 KO) and Australia's "Wild" Will Tomlinson (23-1-1, 13 KO) will be hoping that this maxim holds true for both of them, as they seek to test themselves in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds that they see as an extension of an impromptu sparring session between them in their amateur years, this time under the spotlight of a special HBO Latino Boxing telecast from the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas airing at 9:45 PM ET/PT.
"I remember that we boxed in Chicago, we sparred a few rounds after we finished our training," said Vargas. In a recent interview, the former Olympian discussed their casual encounter in the ring during the preparation for the amateur world championships in Chicago back in 2007. "I knew it was an Australian guy but I didn't remember it was him."
Tomlinson appears to have a more vivid recollection, and he hinted that he would be turning some of those memories into a blueprint for a victory this coming Thursday in what promises to be an exciting early crossroads fight.
"I know that it's a long time ago, but I remember it quite clearly," said Tomlinson. "I remember being very comfortable in the spar, let's put it that way. I remember being able to move around and see all of his punches coming and to counter off of all of his punches."
As useful as this previous confrontation could be when analyzing their clash of styles, some observers will prefer to analyze their separate performances against a common opponent, and that's where Vargas' victory against Jerry Belmontes (who was responsible for Tomlinson's only loss so far, in his U.S. debut early last year) comes in handy. But the transitive property isn't always applicable within a boxing ring, and there are some who see Tomlinson's superb speed and punch placement as potential trouble for his Mexican foe.
But Vargas seems to have found reason to dismiss the threat flatly.
"I've seen that Tomlinson is a strong fighter who presses forward and knows how to manage distances, and he is a fast fighter," says Vargas. "But we're working with people with his same style and we're working hard to be ready for fight night. I am very close to fighting for the world title and I know I am not supposed to take anyone lightly."
This proximity to a title fight applies mostly to Vargas himself, who is now in position to challenge for a title belt after a stoppage victory against former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez last year in what amounted to an elimination bout. But Tomlinson, appearing in his fourth fight on American soil after racking up a 20-0 record in his native Australia, hopes that this opportunity will also translate into an immediate opportunity to fight for the world title belt that every fighter dreams about.
"I believe this is going to be a coming out fight for me in the U.S. I'm going to be able to let the U.S. and Latino boxing fans know who "Wild Will" is and what he's about, and what he's capable of doing," said Tomlinson. "I believe that Vargas is a perfect fight for me. He's a strong, aggressive in-your-face fighter, and these are the types of guys that I love to fight, and that I love to be in the ring with".
Vargas, however, seems to be looking ahead and appears more focused on turning this opportunity to headline a card to be broadcasted in a Latino-themed channel as his springboard towards wider recognition among his fellow Hispanics. The fight has the potential to be a mere prelude to a career-defining title challenge, and Vargas will seek to grab the spotlight in dramatic fashion in his most visible fight to date.
"I am happy and motivated to headline an HBO card," said Vargas. "It motivates me to be prepared and ready for the fight, and I will be ready to give a great fight."