On November 5, the two-division world titlist will square off against future Hall of Fame fight legend Manny Pacquiao at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Because big-fight opportunities of this nature are very few and far in between, Jessie plans to make the most of his moment in the Vegas sun.
(Image courtesy of HBO Boxing)
"I've been waiting for this opportunity for several years now," Vargas recently told "Tha Boxing Voice". "For 19 years to be exact, and it's finally here. Once I take advantage of it, my life will change and I'll finally get the respect that I deserve...not only from the boxing community, but the world in general."
In his first chance to fight for Welterweight gold, back in June of 2015, Vargas challenged incumbent champion Tim Bradley at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The entertaining scrap ended with controversy, in which the third man in the ring ostensibly made a huge blunder in the dramatic twelfth and final round that seemingly costed Jessie the fight and the WBO title.
Although Jessie "technically" came up short against the reigning title holder, he admittedly learned a great deal about "competition" on the elite stages of boxing.
"Even though I was losing that fight on the judges' scorecards, I was able to find the shot that I was looking for, and had him out. The referee stopped the fight, but he (Pat Russell) just chose to change his decision a few minutes after he originally called a halt to the bout."
"In the dressing room, the referee told me, 'after every round, I'm going to extend my hand between you and your opponent, and that's going to show the round is over'. He said he would do that at the end of every round from the first to the last. He also said, 'if one of the fighters is hurt, I'm going to step in a waive the fight off...I'm here to protect the fighter'. That's exactly what he did...he waived the fight off."
Unfortunately for Vargas, the California State Athletic Commission didn't recognize Russell's error and subsequently maintained the referee's final judgment, which allowed the twelve round championship fight to be decided by the three judges at ringside, who all scored the contest in favor of Tim Bradley.
While Jessie garnered his first loss as a professional that evening, he learned a very valuable lesson concerning the politics of boxing, and hasn't been the same fighter since as a result.
"It helped add fuel to the fire," Vargas stated to "Tha' Boxing Voice". "It also helped me realize that I can't leave any big fight in the hands of the judges or the ref. I'm not giving them the any say-so in determining the outcome of this fight.
That's the mentality I have right now. I got a KO victory in my next fight to win the WBO belt, and I'll have that same mentality on November 5th."
Despite heading into the Pacquiao fight with a strong sense of purpose and resolve, the 27 year old fighter understands that a victory over the Pacman will require an optimum effort in the gym, both mentally and physically.
"I have to be confident and aggressive, but also intelligent. I have to be well prepared. I need to have a winner's mentality. That's the mentality that I should have, and that's the mentality I will have on November 5th."
Fight fans can hear more from current WBO Welterweight champion Jessie Vargas tomorrow evening, Tuesday, August 30th, at 7PM ET/4PM PT, on "War a Week Radio", hosted by former Lightweight champion Nate Campbell, radio personality Jesse-Rican, and ring announcer Joseph Herron.