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Vargas’ Win Is Scaled Down

Chicago Tribune

Fernando Vargas looked good in spurts, tired in stretches, and far from dominating in beating Javier Castillejo by unanimous decision in Saturday night’s main event at the Allstate Arena.

“Yes, I was somewhat disappointed, I fought bad,” Vargas said after the decision. “I wasn’t feeling like I should.”

He said he felt sluggish, and blamed having to lose more than 20 pounds to make the 154-pound super-welterweight limit. “I won’t let myself get past 175 pounds between fights again,” he said.

Castillejo conceded, “I thought I was outboxed,” although he was hurt only once, by a Vargas combination that dropped him in the third round.

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By unofficial ringside count, Vargas outlanded Castillejo, 192-119, with an 80-32 edge in jabs and 112-87 margin in power punches.

Vargas stunned Castillejo with his first solid shot of the bout, a chopping right to the side of the head in the third round. As his opponent bent over in a pained delayed reaction, nearly touching the canvas with a glove, Vargas pounced with two left hooks to the head that sent Castillejo down and tangled in the ropes.

But as the rounds progressed, Castillejo became the aggressor and Vargas slowed, looking for isolated counterpunches as his opponent advanced and scored with combinations.

Just when it appeared Castillejo had seized the momentum, Vargas rallied late in the eighth round with his best sustained flurry of lefts and rights to the head. At the end of the 10-round bout, judges Steve Corbo and Ted Gimza scored it 97-92, and Mauro Di Fiore favored Vargas, 98-91. There were boos from the announced crowd of 9,096 whenever the fight slowed, particularly in the final round.

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After the decision was announced, police and security had to break up fights in the stands.

Vargas (26-2, 22 knockouts), from Oxnard, was rated a 4-1 favorite by Las Vegas oddsmakers. He had reeled off 18 of his knockouts by 2000 when, at age 22, he already held a 154-pound title. Castillejo, 37, a two-time former champion at 154 pounds, dropped to 58-6.

In the main undercard bout, Humberto Soto beat previously unbeaten Rocky Juarez by unanimous decision in a featherweight fight.

Although referee Tim Adams twice penalized Soto a point for hitting behind the head, and Juarez seemed to take the steam out of Soto with a left hook to the head late in the seventh round, Soto rallied.

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According to an unofficial ringside count, Soto threw 1,006 punches, nearly twice as many as Juarez’s 571. The winner landed 36 more power punches and four more jabs than Juarez.

“I knew it was close,” said the disappointed loser. “He took a lot of my good shots.”

Judges John McCarthy and Ken Morita scored the bout 114-113 for Soto, and judge Tom Kaczmarek had it 114-112.

Earlier, NBA player Kendall Gill (2-0) scored a unanimous decision over Nicaraguan Jason Medina (1-1) in their four-round cruiserweight bout.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.


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