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Published: Saturday, 5/9/2009

Vargas preparing for tough challenge


Devin Vargas is finally getting what he s desired since turning pro after a stellar amateur boxing career that concluded with him representing the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

He will fight in a main event against a top-rated heavyweight in a nationally televised match.

Vargas (17-0, 7 KOs) is scheduled for a 10-round fight with Kevin Kingpin Johnson (21-0-1, 8 KOs) on ESPN2 s Friday Night Fights main event taking place at Harrah s Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

Johnson is rated the No. 5 heavyweight by the World Boxing Association (WBA), No. 10 by the World Boxing Council (WBC) and No. 13 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF). Vargas has fought only twice in the last year and enters the match not ranked in the top 15 in any of the rankings.

This is an opportunity to make such organizations take notice, according to Ray Vargas, Devin s father, who is his trainer and manager.

Once he gets inside the ring [with Johnson] he can take care of business, Ray said. He wants this. He s positive and his juices are flowing.

Devin has been at odds with his promoter, Joe DeGuardia, the CEO and president of Star Boxing, about not getting enough bouts. Devin accepted the fight on short notice on Tuesday after heavyweight Monte Barrett had to withdraw from the scheduled bout with Johnson after suffering an injury while preparing for the fight. Devin was originally set to fight former WBA heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon, 42, on the undercard before Barrett reportedly suffered a cut.

Ironically, Devin and Johnson are both represented by DeGuardia.

Trainer Tommy Urbina said Vargas is in good physical shape. Urbina said the 27-year-old Toledoan is mentally where he needs to be in preparation for the fight against the highest rated opponent he s faced since turning pro.

Mentally, he s there, Urbina said. Devin knows how to fight. He has a really good boxing mind and he knows it s all up to him.

He knows he can beat this guy.

Devin limited his workout yesterday to some roadwork and is scheduled to hold a 10-round sparring session today around noon in the local gym located in North Toledo.

Donald Emmons

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