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Vargas Anxious to Get Started

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The waiting is over for Fernando Vargas.

Five months after undergoing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb, Vargas, former U.S. Olympic welterweight from Oxnard, will make his professional debut Tuesday night in a four-round bout against Jose Corella at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center.

“I want to make up for lost time,” Vargas said. “I think it’s time to get on the road and see how fast I can go.”

Vargas won’t have to wait long. Main Events Productions, which signed the former U.S. Junior Olympic champion to a lucrative four-year contract last August, has scheduled Vargas for fights on the undercards of shows in Atlantic City, N.J., on April 26 and at New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 16.

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Vargas, 19, the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic boxing team last summer in Atlanta, said he would like to have a dozen fights under his belt by year’s end.

“He’ll definitely be kept busy,” said Don Schargin, a Main Events promoter based in Southern California. “If the fights aren’t too tough, he’ll fight even more.”

Vargas, who lost a controversial 8-7 decision to Marian Simion of Romania in the second round of the Olympic Games, became the first U.S. Olympic boxer to sign a professional contract. Bowing to the fighter’s wishes, Main Events scheduled Vargas’ pro debut for November in his hometown.

However, a hand injury forced a postponement and caused Vargas to remain idle for the longest period since he began fighting at La Colonia Youth Boxing Club in Oxnard.

Vargas returned this week to La Colonia after a three-week training camp in Chandler, Ariz., with trainer Lou Duva.

Before signing with Main Events, Vargas rejected a reported $2 million offer to sign with International Marketing Group because the organization wanted him to move to Miami and sever all ties to Oxnard and longtime trainer Eduardo Garcia.

Vargas said he signed with Main Events because he was allowed to remain in Oxnard and continue working with Garcia. Vargas recently bought a beachfront condominium and Garcia will join Duva in his corner Tuesday night.

“I’ve been here a long time, since I was one of those little guys,” Vargas said, referring to several young boys who rushed to greet him upon his arrival.

“I’m going to stay with my roots and with my people. A lot of them look up to me around here. I think the role of being a role model is a responsibility. I want to watch my step and lead them in the right direction.”

Corella, 22, a native of Mexicali, Mexico, is 3-0.

The fight is on the undercard of a six-bout program headlined by a 12-round North American Boxing Federation welterweight title fight between Derrol Coley and Kip Diggs.

Three other boxers who got their start at La Colonia will appear on the undercard.

Junior lightweight Eddie Contreras of Santa Paula, 11-1 with seven knockouts, will face Jose Manjarez (10-14) in an eight round fight.

Carlos Madrigal of Oxnard (2-1) will fight Manuel Noyola (3-0) in a four-round flyweight bout and heavyweight Adam Flores (1-1) will face Miguel Nava, making his pro debut, in a four-round bout.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Fight Night

Tuesday night’s boxing at Oxnard Performing Arts Center

First bell 5:30

* Derrol Coley (29-1, 20 KOs) vs. Kip Diggs (25-1, 17 KOs), 12-round North American Boxing Federation welterweight championship

* Jose Luis Lopez (36-3, 28 KOs) vs. Jorge Vaca (56-15-1, 46 KOs), 10-round welterweight

* Fernando Vargas (0-0) vs. Jose Corella (3-0), four-round welterweight

* Eddie Contreras (11-1, 7 KOs) vs. Jose Manjarez (10-14, 2 KOs), eight-round junior lightweight

* Carlos Madrigal (2-1) vs. Manuel Noyola (3-0), four-round flyweight

* Adam Flores (1-1) vs. Miguel Nava (0-0), four-round heavyweight

Tickets: $20 to $30. Information: (805) 486-2424


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