Gil Yanez thinks Devin Vargas could be a great professional boxer.
Vargas' trainer also thinks the Toledoan - the 2004 U.S. Olympic heavyweight who will fight for the second time as a pro tomorrow evening at the Sports Arena - is already at a crossroads in his young career.
"After this fight here, he's either going to do it or he's not going to do it as far as I'm concerned," Yanez said.
Yanez - who along with Vargas' father, Ray, works out the 23-year-old - wants Devin to start putting everything he has into the sport, beginning with tomorrow's scheduled four-round bout against 5-10-1 Charles "Chuckie'' Brown of Akron.
He's not alone in his thoughts.
"I stopped a sparring session with him four weeks ago, grabbed him by the headgear and started chewing him out in front of everybody in the gym," Ray Vargas said. "I told him his hips were bigger than his shoulders.
"He wouldn't talk to me for two days afterward, but it must have gotten to him. One of our boxers told me he went out and ran six miles that night."
Vargas' pro debut was Nov. 26, a first-round knockout of Adam Smith at the Sports Arena. Since then, he's had surgery for a knee injury that happened before the Olympics, suffered another knee injury after slipping on ice, temporarily worked at the Davis-Bessie nuclear power plant handing out tools and created an organization called Devastatin' Promotions that is producing tomorrow's scheduled six-fight card that includes his older brother, Dallas.
In short, Devin's done everything but meet an opponent in the ring.
"I can't take breaks anymore," Devin admitted. "I'm used to fighting five to six times a week [as an amateur]. This fighting once every six months isn't cutting it."
Yanez said that Devin needs to step outside of the Toledo area to find sparring partners and commit to the kind of training routine he had in the Olympic program.
"He's going to have to work harder," Yanez said. "And he's going to have to train harder. When I see a boxer, I want him to train harder. I want him to mean it.
"If Devin gets in good shape and is well conditioned, he's going to be tough to beat."
Vargas fought in the Olympics at 201 pounds. After pre-Christmas surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee, his mother Robin said he may have ballooned to as much as 250 pounds without daily workouts.
"[Devin's son] Bishop was calling him, 'Fat Daddy,'●" Robin said.
Ray Vargas said his son is in the neighborhood of 225 now, and admits he's starting to look good.
"After this, he has to fight every two or three weeks," Yanez said. "It depends on how many rounds. If he only fights four rounds, he's gotta fight every two or three weeks.
"I don't want him getting out of shape, getting in shape, then getting out of shape again. That's not good for a fighter. He's gotta stay in shape most of the time."
The Vargas' camp says it is working with Cleveland-based matchmaker Pat Nelson to land more fights and keep the Olympian occupied.
"I need to keep fighting, keep busy," Devin said. "I can't take breaks anymore. Not until you get those big paydays, then you can afford a break."
Contact Dan Saevig at: