Broadway Boxing took a road trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, tonight, where Tongan heavyweight Junior Fa of New Zealand was a clear crowd favorite and won a clear decision over veteran Devin Vargas in the main event.
The 30-year-old Fa (19-0, 10 KO) remains a bit of a question as a heavyweight prospect. He’s winning fights and at 6’5” and around 260-270 pounds, he’s physically got the size to be a player.
But this is two straight fights he’s gone a 10-round distance with a faded veteran. Last time out in June, he won a wide decision over Dominick Guinn, but Fa was also down in the fourth round of that fight. Here, he took scores of 97-91, 99-89, and 100-88 over the 37-year-old Vargas (21-6, 9 KO), but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
Some of that is a legitimate credit to Vargas, a 2004 U.S. Olympian whose pro career never really panned out, but he’s a crafty and still very game veteran, a valuable test for younger heavyweights hoping to move up in the rankings. Vargas was dropped in the fifth and eighth rounds here, but he had the veteran savvy to take this the distance and show some holes in Fa’s game.
Vargas has the sort of skill set and background that you’d think Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren would want to get all over if possible, and bring the ex-Olympian to the United Kingdom against some heavyweight prospects. They’ve used Kevin Johnson for years, and ol’ “Kingpin” is looking out of gas these days. Vargas could fill that slot nicely for another five years or so, maybe.
As for Fa, I’m still just not sure what to think. A big part of me thinks that if you matched him with, say, Dominic Breazeale next, there’s a good chance Breazeale knocks him out. Fa doesn’t seem to have the power you’d expect of a guy with his frame and he’s had some close calls in his career. Basically, I think there’s a reason he’s being somewhat handled with kid gloves, but I also don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. 30 is still quite young for a heavyweight, and if the feeling is he can still develop more, you give him the time. We’ll see — he certainly shouldn’t be written off just because he isn’t a human highlight reel all the time.
- Another New Zealand heavyweight, Hemi Ahio, improved to 16-0 (11 KO) with a second round stoppage of Carolina club fighter Joshua Tufte (19-4, 9 KO). The 29-year-old Ahio might be someone to keep an eye on, too.
- Welterweight Ivan Golub (18-1, 14 KO) stopped Janer Gonzalez (19-3-1, 15 KO) in the 10th and final round.
- In a bit of an upset, 38-year-old super middleweight Mike Guy (12-4-1, 5 KO) won an eight-round split decision over Denis Douglin (22-7, 14 KO), who was once a prospect but now at 31 is pretty much washed out of being a potential contender. Guy is actually on a decent little three-fight run right now, but still.