Former two-division world champion swept the judges' scorecards against rugged Mexican veteran Aaron Herrera, then proceeded to call out elite welterweights.
Welterweight contender Jessie Vargas was looking to punctuate his 2017 with some positivity after enduring a 13-month layoff.
Friday night, Vargas (28-2, 10 knockouts) beat durable veteran Aaron Herrera (33-8-1, 22 KOs) in a 10-round shutout in the main event of the last PBC on FS1 card of the year at the Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California. The former two-division champion hadn't fought since losing a clear 12-round decision to Manny Pacquiao last November defeated Herrera by a score of 100-89 by all three judges.
"I felt the ring rust a bit to be honest," Vargas said. "I tried to stick to my distance. I would basically set him up with jabs and right hands. I felt much more relaxed and look forward to continuing to improve."
It was Vargas' first time working with boxing Hall of Famer Mike McCallum as his head trainer, and it seems as though Vargas has found his perfect match. McCallum has known Vargas since he was 15—they share Las Vegas as their city of residence.
Vargas fought a relaxed opening round and began to work behind his jab with consistency in the second round, popping Herrera with straight and overhand right hands. When he landed, Herrera smiled and banged his gloves together, indicating Vargas got some good leather on him.
Herrera got a full month to prepare, unlike when he lost at the hands of Brandon Rios in June in the same venue. Herrera had no excuses and was game, but didn't throw enough punches or back Vargas up. The Mexican gatekeeper is always good for giving guys rounds, and that was no exception Friday night.
“ I'll start preparing as of tomorrow and start looking at the champions. Either Keith Thurman or Errol Spence—I know he has a fight coming up against Peterson—I'm looking forward to the winner, also Danny Garcia. ” Former two-division world champion Jessie Vargas
Vargas showed to be well conditioned as he bounced on his toes prior to the opening of the fourth round. Herrera tried slowing Vargas down with a focused body attack but Vargas kept the right distance, making Herrera's punches hit air. Vargas circled Herrera and flicked his jab with regularity.
Vargas landed a massive shot midway through the sixth round and followed it up with a barrage that put Herrera on his behind. Herrera recovered quickly and Vargas didn't get too overeager after the knockdown.
Vargas continued to fight a disciplined fight and punctuated things by hurting Herrera in the last round of the fight en route to the shutout. Vargas has a lot of options after getting the first fight since signing with the PBC under his belt, and he's ready for them.
"I'll start preparing as of tomorrow and start looking at the champions," Vargas said afterwards. "Either Keith Thurman or Errol Spence—I know he has a fight coming up against Peterson—I'm looking forward to the winner, also Danny Garcia."
Vargas has the proven pedigree that he can hang with any of those guys—in 2018 he looks to seize those opportunities.
“Shango” makes Statement
The co-main event saw once-beaten welterweight contender Jamal “Shango” James (22-1, 10 KOs) make the most impressive statement of his career to date as he scored a third-round knockout over veteran contender Diego Chaves (26-3-1, 22 KOs) via a sensational left hook to the body.
James used his jab and significant height advantage from the outset, while Chaves looked to attack the body and close the distance. Both fighters traded attacks early, but it was James who broke through first with a barrage in the third round.
After stunning Chaves with a right hand, James went on the attack as his opponent stopped throwing punches. He took full advantage of the opportunity by perfectly placing the left hook to the body that sent Chaves down and eventually counted out by referee Tom Taylor.
Molina Jr. scores KO in slugfest with Redkach
In an action-packed super lightweight showdown, John Molina Jr. (30-7, 24 KOs) delivered a fourth-round stoppage of Ivan Redkach (20-3-1, 16 KOs) after both men hit the canvas in the first three rounds.
"It was a great fight," Molina said. "I was a little rusty, but it's not an excuse, Redkach was a really tough guy. We got the job done and never gave up. A fight is a fight, it's not over until it's over."
Both men came out looking to throw power punches from the start, and it was Redkach who struck first, pinning Molina in the corner in round two before dropping him with a combination. Molina was able to drastically change the tide of the fight in round three with a perfect right hand that landed flush as Redkach was already off balance and sent him to the canvas.
Redkach was able to survive the round, but Molina connected again in the fourth round with a right hand that stunned Redkach and a clubbing left hook that put him down again. This knockdown prompted referee Eddie Hernandez to wave off the bout 1:27 into the fourth round, giving Molina a big victory with his family watching ringside.
"You always dig deep with your family watching. You never want to lose in front of your family,” Molina said. “I'm always going to fight until the very end. I had a tough opponent in front of me but I did what I had to to get the victory."
Omotoso scores UD victory
The opening bout of the telecast saw Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KOs) score a unanimous decision victory over Freddy Hernandez (34-9, 22 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight contest.
Hernandez had success early in the fight, hitting Omotoso with counter left hands consistently and using his range effectively. As the fight wore on Omotoso increased his pressure and broke through in round eight with a straight right hand that stunned Hernandez.
Omotoso was unable to score a knockdown, but had success throughout the final three rounds on his way to earning the decision by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 100-90.
For a complete recap of Vargsas vs Herrera, visit our fight page.