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Published: Sunday, 11/28/2004

Vargas' KO win impresses crowd and promoter, too

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
The manager of Prize Fight Boxing says Devin Vargas of Toledo has the talent to win a world heavyweight championship. The manager of Prize Fight Boxing says Devin Vargas of Toledo has the talent to win a world heavyweight championship.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

Devin Vargas left the boxing ring Friday night amid cheers by the enthusiastic crowd announced at 3,100 at the Toledo Sports Arena.

The 2004 United States Olympic boxing team captain debuted as a professional fighter by decking his heavyweight opponent with a deceptive right hook for a first-round knockout.

Many in attendance were family members, friends and longtime followers of Vargas and his older brother, Dallas, who recorded a technical knockout to retain his Ohio State Athletic Commission light-heavyweight title in the evening's final bout.

Brian Young, the manager of Prize Fight Boxing, was part of the throng who didn't have long-term connections with the Olympian. Young showed up with plans to possibly establish future ties with the Start graduate for his group, which has become one of the country's top boxing promoters.

"We're here looking at Devin because he's a tremendous prospect," Young said. "We're hoping to be involved in his career."

Considering Devin needed only 2 minutes, 33 seconds to KO Youngstown's Adam Smith, Young's chance to evaluate Devin was quite limited.

Yet Young, who has handled promoting some of the most high-profile and most lucrative boxing cards in the last few years - including bouts featuring Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones - believes he witnessed plenty to justify seriously pursuing the young fighter.

Young thinks Devin would be a good fit with Prize Fight Boxing.

"We know he can really fight and we know he has the talent to win a world title and we just really like him as a person as well," Young said. "We're excited that he possesses the talent to win a world title and possesses the character to keep it and that's what really attracts us to him."

Toledo-based attorney Marty McManus had never promoted a pro boxing event before establishing Knock Out Promotions, the group primarily responsible for the local boxing card that took place at the Sports Arena. A longtime follower of the Vargas brothers, McManus wanted to help Devin get his pro career off the ground.

"I've been watching the Vargas boys for several years and I knew they were ready to rock Toledo and I had no doubt in my mind that the Vargases would bring people into Toledo," he said.

Vargas didn't exactly receive the return from Athens he had pictured in his mind.

He came home without a medal after losing 36-27 to Viktar Zuyev of Belarus in the quarterfinals. Furthermore, he returned from the most significant trip of his life only to find himself not receiving the kind of adulation and attention from professional boxing promoters that he'd heard about in comparison to the experiences of previous U.S. Olympic boxers.

The Don Kings and Bob Arums of the boxing world weren't ringing his cell phone offering million-dollar guarantees. The HBOs and Showtimes weren't penciling him in to be part of money making pay-per-view boxing cards.

What Devin found out days following his return from Greece was that the sport he grew up loving as a Golden Gloves champion is strictly business at the professional level. The fun and games he experienced as an amateur all the way up to his Olympic experience last August were officially over.

"There are a lot of promoters that are interested but they're trying to get all the Olympians for cheap," Devin said. "Not just me, but all the Olympians. I'm glad I'm taking a stand and not signing for less than what I think I'm worth.

"I'm just going to prove to everyone that I can fight."

Devin had already met with Young earlier in the day to discuss the possibility of both Vargas fighters signing with Prize Fight Boxing. Both sides thought the discussion went well.

Vargas said he plans to send out videotape of his first pro fight to a number of promoters who weren't in the crowd. That doesn't mean his boxing future will not eventually involve working with Prize Fight Boxing.

It only means until Devin signs a contract he's keeping all his options open.

"I've been broke all my life, so I'm in no rush," he said.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com or 419-724-6302.



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