From December 4, 1999, to December 7, 2000, as Fernando Vargas went from age 21 to 22, he took on the likes of Winky Wright, Ike Quartey and then most memorably, Felix Trinidad. As his three sons begin their journeys as professional boxers, he makes it clear that they will be put on a much slower track.
Fernando Jr., Amado and Emiliano are part of the 'Trillerverz 5' at the Kia Forum on Saturday night. While it's the bout between Sergey Kovalev and Turvel Pulev that is the main event, it's this threesome that is really the centerpiece of this promotion.
Looking back at his own short but eventful career (which spanned just 31 fights, and saw him retire just before his 30th birthday), Vargas realizes that the path he took isn't one that he will allow his kids to take.
"You come to the realization when you become older, wiser in life, you learn things and you see things you think about, 'Maybe I should've done this differently, done that differently,''' Vargas told SNAC.com. "So at the end of the day, that's what maturing into a man is, recognizing that you made mistakes in the past and seeing how you can capitalize from it now and not make the mistakes you once did.
"That's what I'm going to do with my boys."
In other words: do as I say, not as I did.
Unlike their father, these kids didn't necessarily have early aspirations to box. Fernando actually dissuaded them for years. His belief is that the sacrifices he made, were so that they didn't have to step into the ring. Eventually, they got the itch.
Fernando Jr, age 25, is 5-0(5 KOs) is an aspiring junior middleweight, while Amado (3-0, 2 KOs), a featherweight is 21 years old, and 18 year old Emiliano is a lightweight, who will be making his pro debut this weekend.
The father trains the trio, with Egis Klimas and Jose De La Cruz, co-managing them.
"They know I'm there for their best interest at heart," said Vargas, who made history by becoming the youngest junior middleweight champion in boxing history by stopping Yory Boy Campas in 1998, while just 21 years old. There's nobody that wants to see them succeed more than me, and their mother."
And unlike many other fathers who work with their sons, 'el Feroz' makes it clear, "I'm not here for a paycheck. I'm here to help them to achieve their goals. That's to become world champions."
His son are not a personal ATM for him.
"I'm fine, I'm doing good," said Vargas, of his financial situation.
Vargas is now philosophical about his own career, one that netted him millions, but in retrospect a bit rushed, and then cut short. Yet, there is no bitterness. "The good, the bad, the ugly, is experience for my boys -- to benefit them,'' he stated.
During his younger days, Vargas was someone who lived on the edge. He could be as ferocious outside the ring in-between bouts, as he was during his fights. So what's the best bit of advice he's given his boys?
"I told them, 'You already have a name because of your father, not because of anything you've done. Don't go out and live the partying life and think you're going to be able to take it a long way i the sport of boxing, and think it's going to be OK -- no, its not. You've got to stay focused on the game.""
Vargas continued, "The worst mistake is when I started drinking. I'm seven years sober (now) because of that. So tell them like this, 'You know and I know that the partying, the women, it's always going to be there at the end of the day. So it's up to you to make the right choice, and the right choice is to dedicate yourself for five, six years in this game.
"And you'll go a long way."
From the Toyota Arena in Ontario, California, Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez faces Dominic Boesel in a WBA light heavyweight eliminator, which could put him in line to face Dmitry Bivol, who is suddenly the talk of the town after defeating Canelo Alvarez last weekend.
"I'm going to win, I'm going to win," he said, emphatically on Tuesday afternoon outside of Brickhouse Boxing, where he hosted a media day. "Of course people want to see that fight (with me and Bivol), I want to give it to the fans, they deserve it."
Unlike Alvarez, Ramirez(43-0, 29 KOs), the statuesque southpaw believes he is a real 175 pounder, with the physical dimensions to trouble Bivol.
"Dmitry knows I'm bigger than him, that's why maybe he wants to be at '68 and fight Canelo(again). But it's a great opportunity for Bivol to make that fight, he can beat Canelo again,'' opined Ramirez, who is now under the direction of Julian Chua, and has scored recent stoppages of Sullivan Barrera and Yunieski Gonzalez.
"Bivol would definitely be a guy that we would want," said Chua, a bright up-and-coming trainer."We want meaningful fights. His goal has not to necessarily teach him how to box, but to change his mentality into one that will allow him to get more big-money opportunities.
"It's a shift of domination, and he knows that he's being compared to Canelo, to all these guys, and he needs to perform in that manner," explained Chua. "There were a couple of technical things that we've been really working on, other than that, yeah, he was a polished sword when I got him."
Sometimes a trainer's job isn't just about cleaning up technique, but much more about the mindset on how a boxer approaches his job.
"That's up to a trainer to understand, you have to really know your men," said Chua."You have to know your fighters, and know where they need to grow, and sometimes it is from a psychological standpoint.'
Ramirez has meshed well with Chua.
"I think the intelligence that he has, and that I have in the ring, we put it together and it's a great combination," he said.
In what is an extremely busy boxing weekend in Southern California -- with three cards taking place within a 50 mile radius of one another -- the best and most important bout takes place at the Dignity Health Sports Park -- aka 'the War Grounds' -- in Carson on Showtime.
Once again, all the junior middleweight belts will be on the line as Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano tee it up for the second time. Last summer they met in San Antonio, Texas, where they battled to a draw over 12 heated rounds.
A majority of observers believe it was the Argentine who should've had his hands raised in victory. But coming into the rematch the consensus is that Charlo will make the necessary adjustments and become the undisputed champion at 154.
I'm told that Castano has had a much better training camp for this fight than he did last summer.If that's the case, I'm not convinced that Charlo can keep this fight in the center of the ring, instead of with his back on the ropes like it was for their initial encounter. And with that, I will go out on a limb and say that he stops Charlo in the 10th round.
TRILLERVERZ 5 3KR
Mario Lopez and I hosted a special edition of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller, where the Vargas clan, along with Kovalev and his manager, Egis Klimas, were in-studio to talk about their upcoming assignments:
And the regular version of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' where we discuss Bivol-Alvarez, and everything else in boxing, can be viewed here:
Also on the Showtime broadcast is highly touted welterweight contender, Jaron 'Boots' Ennis, who is paired with Custio Clayton in an IBF eliminator....The co-feature in Ontario is the lightweight buzzsaw, William Zepeda, he is paired with veteran Rene Alvarado...The WBC has ordered a fight between Ryan Garcia and Isaac Cruz, which is far from a guarantee that it actually takes place....I'm hooked on 'the Food that Built America' on the History Channel....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....