Tucson Boxing

AND STILL: Berchelt Defends WBC Title at the Tucson Convention Center

When Francisco Vargas (25-2-2, 18KOs) took on Miguel Berchelt (35-1, 32KOs) in January of 2017, they gave boxing fans a Fight of the Year caliber bout and they each forever linked their two names together in the minds of boxing fans. When one is mentioned, the other comes to mind instantly. They delivered a gruesome performance that ended in a stoppage and Vargas surrendering his belt to Berchelt. Vargas has been chasing a chance to regain the spot atop of the Super Featherweight division since. Up to Saturday night, Berchelt had defended the belt he took from around Vargas’ waist four times before everything came full circle.

Vargas was finally given the opportunity to redeem himself and avid boxing fans were promised a another chapter of the fight saga these two had begun writing.

The two came together in front of 4,424 fight fans in the TCC arena Friday night for an ESPN/Top Rank card that was loaded with boxing talent from all over the world. Vargas/Berchelt II brought out a different energy from the crowd. As soon as the fighters ring walks were complete, the fans on hand knew they were in for something memorable.

Francisco Vargas and Miguel Berchelt lived up to the price of admission.

The two started off their bout cautious but once the energy in the ring reached a boiling point, it was every bit the slug-fest their first bout was. Defense seemed nonexistent and the two fighters fell into a rhythm of trading blows. Setting up shots with jabs or looking to slip and parry punches was simply not anything these two wanted when they got going.

History did repeat itself at the Tucson Arena.

Though Vargas was trading shots with Berchelt and able to go toe to toe for much of the night, Vargas’ punching power was simply not as devastating as Berchelt’s and he eventually wore down. Vargas’ corner was forced to protect their fighter and called a stop to the bout between the sixth and seventh round. Vargas face looked like it’ll take weeks to heal, while Berchelt could perhaps pose for promo shot for his next title defense.

Vargas was asked why caused his corner to call a stop to the bout and the former world champion spoke frankly with a certain level of acceptance. “My trainer did what he’s supposed to do. He’s here to protect me and tonight, he did his job. I felt like I could continue, but Berchelt’s combinations were sharp and I understand it,” Vargas answered.

Berchelt had made a guarantee when this fight was announced that he was going to win by knockout. After stopping Vargas within seven rounds he had the opportunity for his, “I told you so,” moment. Instead, his remarks embodied every bit what a champion should be:

“I did what I said I was going to do in the ring. More importantly, I want to thank Francisco ‘Bandito’ Vargas. He’s a true Mexican warrior, and more than anything, let me tell you, he gave me my first opportunity at a world title. So, it was only fair that I would give him a shot to win his world title back. But his corner did the right thing in saving him from more punishment.”

Berchelt waved goodbye to the Old Pueblo crowd after making a final statement about his future, “I want to prove that I’m the best 130-pounder in the world. In {two weeks}, it will be {Jamel} Herring taking on {WBO champion Masayuki} Ito. I want the winner of that fight because I don’t want to leave any doubt as to who the best super featherweight in the world is.”

Notes Taken During the Fight:

WBC Super Featherweight Title
Francisco Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs) vs Miguel Berchelt (35-1, 31 KOs)

Vargas steps into the ring dressed as a bandit. Berchelt with the WBC belt held high and the crowd seems to be on his side. There is a certain electricity in the arena at the start of this one.

Rnd 1: Both come out cautious. Not trying to tip their hand first to the other. Simply pawing at each other and sending feelers out. Berchelt lands the first combination of the fight. Berchelt is the only one landing midway through the first round. Vargas’ eyes are already raw and red at the end of the round. Round to Berchelt.

Rnd 2: Vargas starts the round off by walking down Berchelt. Huge right by Vargas finds Berchelts head. Straight right from Berchelt snaps Vargas’ head straight back. The referee falls to the canvas and draws a huge sarcastic ovation from the crowd. These two are fighting in a phone booth. Berchelt is landing the more damaging blows drawing big reactions from the 4424 on hand.

Rnd 3: Berchelt landing to the body well. Vargas landing jabs. Thunderous blows are being landed by both. Vargas stumbles back. Vargas now has Berchelt against the ropes. Vargas is taking punishment and is bleeding from the bridge of his nose. A body shot from Berchelt buckles Vargas just as the bell rings.

Rnd 4: Both come out of their corners breathing through their mouths. Berchelt landing a hirer percentage rate according to ESPN coverage. The sting from Vargas’ punches has seemed to diminish. Berchelt is landing more powerful blows. With more accuracy. Vargas’ face already looks as if he’s gone 12 rounds.

Rnd 5: Vargas starts the round by absorbing and walking through jabs. Combination buckles Vargas. Vargas returns fire and staggers Berchelt. Both of these fighters are starting to give the Tucson crowd a CLASSIC bout. Each taking turns drawing reactions from the crowd. Power shots. Nothing but power shots. One fighter takes a turn landing 2 or 3 blows, then the other.

Rnd 6: Vargas comes out aggressive. Back Berchelt against the ropes. Berchelt is doubling up on hooks and jabs. Berchelt beginning to circle around the ring, staying to the outside. Again, taking turns landing powershots. Mostly to each other’s head. Zero defense. Neither has their guard up or tries to slip or avoid punches. Berchelt is now fighting with his mouth wide open.

VARGAS’ corner calls an end to the action. Berchelt comes over to the opposing corner and embraces Vargas.

Berchelt retains his title and improves 35-1, 32KOs

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