In a late entry contender for Fight of the Year, Francisco Vargas got off the canvas and rallied for a comeback stoppage of Takashi Miura, staying unbeaten and winning his first world title in a fight that almost surely will have stolen the show on the Cotto-Canelo card.
This was a brutal fight all the way through, with Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KO) drilling Miura (29-3-2, 22 KO) with a straight right hand early in the first round, buckling the Japanese titleholder's legs a little bit. It was really amazing that Miura didn't go down on that shot, and he was hammered the remainder of the opening stanza.
In the second and third rounds, Miura found his way back into the fight, finding a home for his straight left out of the southpaw stance, and investing in some really nice body work. In the fourth round, he put Vargas down hard, and from there seemed to be taking over the bout. For the next few rounds, Miura battered Vargas' right eye, which was cut underneath in the first round, a second cut on the eyelid joining it as the fight progressed. By the time the fight was over, that eye had swollen nearly shut, and was a bullseye for Miura's left hand.
Late in the eighth, with Vargas having his best round in a while, Miura again hurt Vargas badly, and looked to capitalize, but didn't have enough time. A wobbly Vargas went back to his stool, but dug down deep there to come back out for the ninth, and then he went right on the attack. A hard right hand forced Miura's glove toward the canvas, and Vargas followed up with two more flush shots that put Miura down, and hurt badly.
Vargas continued to pressure as the fight resumed, throwing both hands constantly, and mixing in more body shots to keep Miura's legs from coming back to him. With Miura absorbing a lot of punishment, referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at 1:31 of the ninth round. Vargas was trailing on two of three official scorecards, and was even on the other.
To say the very least, Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez have quite an act to follow as we head to the main event.