Fernando Javier Vargas (born December 7, 1977) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1997 to 2007. He is a two time light middleweight world champion, having held the IBF title from 1998 to 2000, and the WBA title from 2001 to 2002. With his IBF title win, Vargas became the youngest boxer in history to win a light middleweight world title, at age 21. As an amateur he won a bronze medal in the light welterweight division at the 1995 Pan American Games, and reached the second round of the welterweight bracket at the 1996 Olympics.
Vargas is best known for his heated rivalries against Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Ricardo Mayorga.
In the early rounds Vargas bullied De La Hoya against the ropes and landed right hands to the head and body; however, in the middle and late rounds Vargas fatigued and De La Hoya’s hand speed took over. After hurting Vargas at the end of round 10, De La Hoya dropped Vargas in the next round with a left hook to the head, and stopped him moments later with a flurry at the 1:48 mark of the round.
During the mandatory drug testing after the De La Hoya fight, Vargas tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol better known as Winstrol. Vargas said the steroids were given to him without his knowledge, but he accepted full responsibility. The Nevada Athletic Commission announced on November 20 of 2002 that it would fine Vargas $100,000 because of his use of steroids. Fernando Vargas was suspended for nine months.
Despite these problems, Fernando remained an accessible and popular celebrity, known for signing many autographs. After his knockout win over Fitz Vanderpool on July 26, 2003, he stood in a corner and yelled “I love you guys!” to his fans. Vargas continued his comeback on December 12, with a seventh round knockout of Tony Marshall that was shown live nationwide from Tucson, on Telemundo. During that fight, Vargas injured a disc in his back and his doctor recommended surgery, but Vargas chose to rehabilitate his back himself without having the procedure. This caused him to spend almost two years in inactivity, but on March 26, 2005 he returned to boxing with a ten round unanimous decision win over Ray Joval in Corpus Christi, Texas.
On August 20, 2005, he returned to the boxing ring to fight fellow former world light middleweight champion Javier Castillejo of Spain. Vargas dropped Castillejo in the third round, but he apparently broke his right hand and went on to win by a ten round unanimous decision.
Mosley vs Vargas I & II
On February 25, 2006, Vargas once again returned to the ring to face fellow Southern California boxer Sugar Shane Mosley. In a tightly contested battle, Vargas’ left eye became grotesquely swollen and referee Joe Cortez decided to stop the fight in the 10th round to minimize further damage, granting a technical knockout (TKO) victory to Mosley. The reasoning behind the stoppage, explained Nevada State Athletic Commission czar Marc Ratner, was that the referee and the fight doctor deemed that Vargas was unable to defend himself adequately against Mosley’s right hand shots. At he time of the stoppage, two judges had Mosley winning the fight 86-85. One judge had Vargas winning the fight 86-85. Fightnews.com had the bout scored 86-85 for Mosley. In the post fight press conference, Vargas made it clear that he would resume his boxing career and stated that a rematch with Mosley should be in order because the match was stopped on a technicality. ESPN boxing expert Dan Rafael wrote: “Vargas is so utterly delusional bout what actually happened in his first fight with Mosley that we think he might have a concussion. When will he stop lying to himself, and when will his team stop going along with him?