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, November 24, 2007

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Good Night And Good Luck, Nando



The promoters originally dubbed the bout between Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga “For Pride.” But when that tag didn’t quite stick and the proposed September event at Staples Center in Los Angeles was postponed to last night, they went with “The Brawl.” Even fans excited about this PPV might have felt that something like “Shot vs. More Shot” would be most appropriate.

This was to be Vargas’ farewell bout. He had hoped to go out with a sterling win, but his spent legs, deteriorated reflexes and ravaged metabolism can no longer match his still vital heart and will. At age 29, the “Ferocious” one has fought his last fight—as long as he stays true to his word.

Mayorga won a 12-round majority decision by scores of 111-115, 112-114 and 113-113. The wild Nicaraguan now raises his mark to 29-6-1 (23), while Vargas bows out at 26-5 (22). The Fight Network had it 116-111 for Mayorga.

That last score that had this super middleweight match (both weighed in at 164) a draw had to be a case of some hometown cooking for Oxnard, California’s Nando. I’d like to know how judge David Mendoza could justify this one?

Vargas was knocked down twice, in the first and eleventh rounds. The first knockdown was the result of a wild barrage (does Ricardo know any other kind?) that overwhelmed Vargas more than it truly hurt him. The one in the eleventh was a hard right that caught him on the jaw and sent his weary body plummeting hard to the canvas.   There were several other rounds in the bout where Mayorga succeeding in playing the bully, with a consistent body attack and teeth-rattling head shots.

This is not to say that Vargas was dominated. He was very much in this fight, even through the tenth round.  To the end, he proved himself the better technician. He hurt Mayorga a few times with good right hands and body shots, forcing Ricardo to hold.  When he could summon the energy, he picked his spots well on the wide open “El Matador.” (Never has a fighter been so poorly named; Mayorga is nothing if not “El Toro.)

When Vargas fought Felix Trinidad in 2000 in an epic war that defined his career in many ways—a TKO 12 loss in which he demonstrated unworldly guts and ability—many postulated that he was damaged goods thereafter. I am one of these.

He was a precocious champion, winning the IBF jr. middle title against Yory Boy Campas when he was only 21. He then notched wins against Winky Wright. Raul Marquez and Ike Quartey.

But after his mega-fight with Trinidad, he would never participate in, but never win, another major fight. One of the biggest draws in boxing from early on, he’s made millions fighting Oscar de la Hoya and, most recently, Shane Mosley twice. But this observer had noticed a sharp physical decline in him…if not immediately after the Trinidad bout, then definitely by the time he had gotten stopped by de la Hoya in 2002.
31 bouts may not sound like a lot on paper, but Vargas took on the best of his generation and led with his heart and chin when the moment took him. He destroyed his body trying to make the 154-pound jr. middle limit for years, while not leading a disciplined life between bouts; he regularly shed 40 to 50 pounds in camp. Regardless, his fans never stopped loving him—the $1 million gate at the Staples Center attests to this—and he never stopped trying to deliver for them.

IBF welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron got more than he bargained for in game opponent Jesse Feliciano. Perhaps he was looking past Feliciano and was more concerned with his proposed February bout against Paul Williams?

After a good first round in which Cintron had Feliciano hurt, the tables began to turn. The shorter, rugged Feliciano managed to draw Kermit into an inside battle. Although Cintron’s fabled trainer and manger Emanuel Steward urged him to box and keep Jesse at bay, he never did. Noramally, Cintron has a good jab that he used to measure and set up his monster right hands. Not this time.

Luckily, Cintron’s power was there for him in the tenth, when he caught his man with a series of flush shots to the grill. Ref John Schorle jumped in to protect Feliciano at 1:53 of the round.

This was only expected to be a few stay-busy rounds for Cintron. One suspects that he showed enough holes in his game that Steward might shelf the Williams bout until his charge is fully prepared for the volume punching Georgian with the praying mantis physique. He’s already had one meltdown in his career, against Antonio Margarito, and another breakdown could prove devastating to his psyche and career.

Still, his record goes to 29-1 (27) while Feliciano falls to 15-6-3 (9). But the loser was the real winner tonight, as Feliciano showed an ungodly amount of grit and an iron-cast chin. He may never transcend opponent status, but he should see many decent paydays considering the great showings he consistently puts in.

Jr. middle Roman Karmazin (now 36-2-1, 23 KOs) made easy work of Alejandro Garcia (now 25-3, 24 KOs), knocking him out at 1:24 of the third. A four-punch combination did the trick—left hook downstairs, right hook upstairs (2X). This was a WBA title eliminator, earning Karmazin a shot at titlist Joachim Alcine.





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