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Thursday, June 21, 2012
Top Rank inks prospect Jessie Vargas

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Las Vegas welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas, who has had the benefit of significant television exposure on Floyd Mayweather Jr. pay-per-view undercards, signed a promotional agreement with Top Rank on Wednesday.

Jessie Vargas
Welterweight prospect Jessie Vargas signed a promotional contract with Top Rank.

"I wanted to be with the Top Rank team, and here I am," said Vargas, who became a promotional free agent recently when his agreement with Mayweather Promotions expired.

Vargas also signed on June 5 with manager Cameron Dunkin, who handles such name fighters as welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., junior featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire and former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

"Jessie Vargas is a top-10 welterweight who not only wants to win a world championship but is looking to be a star in the sport," Dunkin said. "I talked to several people about signing him, but when it was all said and done, these guys [Top Rank] gave him a really good deal -- financially and with the opportunities."

Two of Vargas' past three fights came on Mayweather undercards. He pulled out a split-decision win against Josesito Lopez on the undercard of Mayweather-Victor Ortiz in September and rolled to a lopsided decision against Steve Forbes on May 5 on the undercard of Mayweather's fight with Miguel Cotto.

In between those bouts, Vargas (19-0, 9 KOs) was on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" series and scored a near shutout of Lanardo Tyner in February. The victories against Lopez and Tyner impressed Top Rank matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman.

"I think Jessie is still in the learning process, but he showed me a lot of willpower in a really tough fight with Lopez where I thought he pulled out the fight in the last two rounds," Goodman said. "What impressed me the most was when he fought on 'ShoBox' and he easily beat a really rough, tough guy like Lanardo Tyner. He was a young kid fighting a man.

"Slowly and gradually, we'll groom him until we think he's ready to fight for a title. He's just going to get better."

Vargas, 23, has been boxing since he was 8. He was a two-time junior National Golden Gloves champion and went approximately 120-20 as an amateur before turning pro in 2008.

"Everyone at Top Rank is very excited about Jessie," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said.

Vargas, who is trained by Robert Alcazar -- who trained Oscar De La Hoya for many years -- will make his Top Rank debut in September. Dunkin said the fight could come on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. middleweight championship card being planned for Sept. 15.

"I am planning to be very busy, fighting three, four times a year," Vargas said.