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Boxing: Boxing: Vargas leaves early for training camp

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posted on May, 25 2003 @ 09:51 PM
link - May 24, 2003

Fernando Vargas has headed for the hills.

Vargas (22-2) has left the comfy confines of his Camarillo home and has relocated to his training camp in Big Bear to begin hardcore training for his July 26 fight with Fitz Vanderpool (24-4-4), the WBC No. 1-ranked junior middleweight.

The fighters will square off in an HBO "Boxing After Dark" bout at the famed Olympic Auditorium.

It will be the first time Vargas has stepped into the ring since losing to Oscar De La Hoya last September.

"I'm back at work and I feel good," Vargas said via telephone from Big Bear. "This is my second week up here. I took it upon myself to get up here early. I wanted to get away from everything and start really focusing on the job at hand.

"I am not taking anyone lightly. I want to put on a great performance for my 805 (area code) fans and my Los Angeles fans."

According to Vargas' manager, Rolando Arellano, the fight is nearly a sellout.

Arellano said only about 500 of the 7,100 tickets remain unsold. Tickets are priced at $17, $27, $42 and $302.

"The ticket sales are going well," Arellano said. "He wants to make a nice, big comeback. He's doing it at home and in front of the hometown people, so we have to make sure he's ready."

After the loss to De La Hoya, Vargas did some soul searching and decided changes needed to be made if he was serious about getting back to the top of his game.

One big change was to get involved with Pro Camp, a Venice-based company that trains professional athletes from the NFL, NBA and other sports.

Vargas spent the last four months at Pro Camp. He says he can feel the benefits.

"It was what I needed to do," Vargas said. "It was awesome and built a solid foundation for this camp. It was hard work, but nothing in life comes easy.

"Now when I'm here at the dungeon (his nickname for his Big Bear camp), I feel good running 45 minutes. In the past I used to die during the first week up here."

The other major change was bringing Buddy McGirt on as an assistant trainer.

"I am really happy we added Buddy McGirt; he's awesome," Vargas said. "He has shown me that I had gotten away from what made me successful when I was an amateur. I never used to knock guys out. I used to fight to stop guys, but not knock them out.

"Once you knock a few guys out, you start thinking I am going to knock everyone out. I got away from what I do best, fighting smart, moving my head, getting angles. I think this fight people will see the difference."

The fight with Vanderpool kicks off what looks to be a busy last six months of 2003.

Arellano said the plan is to have Vargas back in the ring on Sept. 13 for a fight on NBC against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

Then in December or January, they would like to match him against Javier Castillejo either on HBO or in a pay-per-view fight. Castillejo is the interim WBC junior middleweight.

"If we beat Castillejo, we become a mandatory opponent for Oscar De La Hoya," Arellano said. "He will have eight months to fight us again or lose his belt."

Vargas and Arellano feel the ambitious schedule is to Vargas' advantage.

"Fernando looked the best in his career was when he was fighting continually," Arellano said. "When you fight continually, there is little down time. You keep your mind and body in shape.

"Assuming he has no injuries from this fight, we will put him back into camp a week or two after the fight. We want to keep him as busy as possible."

The July fight figures to have a different feel. Arellano wants to make it an Academy Awards-like event, complete with red carpet and celebrities.

"We will have a red carpet and there will be grandstands for fans to sit and watch the arrival of celebrities," Arellano said. "We have invited people like Salma Hayek, Jimmy Smits, Antonio Banderas, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Snoop Dogg. It's going to be a big event."

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