TORONTO, Ontario, Canada – North American Boxing Association welterweight champion Samuel Vargas has been on boxing’s biggest stage and he’s determined to prove that he still belongs there.
The 28-year-old Vargas (27-3-1, 14 KOs) steps up in one of the most significant fights of his career, August 19, as he defends his NABA title against three-time world title challenger Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka (39-6-3, 31 KOs) in the main event of Lee Baxter Promotions’ (LBP) second event at the Brampton Powerade Centre, “Face Off”, in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
Vargas-Funeka is inarguable one of the highest-level bouts to be staged in Toronto in several years.
“Sam is still at a stage in his career where he’s improving and to challenge a guy who’s been a world title contender for the better part of a decade shows that he’s still hungry and still wants to test himself,” promoter Lee Baxter said.
The tough-as-nails Vargas, who fights out of Toronto, is riding the momentum of a dominant win by 10-round unanimous decision over Armando Robles (31-5-2, 18 KOs), at LBP’s first Powerade Centre event this past March, as well as a homecoming victory for Colombia-native’s fifth-round knockout this past May over former world title challenger Marco Antonio Avendano (30-10-1, 22 KOs).
An impressive victory over his battled-tested South African opponent will certainly re-position Vargas in the world boxing scene, where he was a little more than year ago, when he fought two of the premier welterweights in the world, former WBA Super World Super Lightweight titlist Danny Garcia (32-0, 19 KOs), and current International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Champion Errol Spence Jr. (15-0, 12 KOs), in losing yet invaluable fight experiences for Vargas against world-class opponents.
“We always have our eye on big fights for Sam. A win over Funeka would really resonate in the boxing world,” Baxter added.
Funeka has some unfinished business in the “Great White North” having lost in 2009 in one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory to Joan Guzman (29-0) in Quebec City. Although many viewers had Vargas defeating Guzman, including HBO’s unofficial scorer Harold Lederman, who scored the bout 117-111 for Funeka and called for an investigation into the judging that soon followed, resulted in a questionable 12-round majority draw for the vacant IBF World Lightweight Championship.
“Canadian fans have always had a soft spot for Funeka,” Baxter noted. “The crowd at the Pepsi Coliseum was on his side and they fell in love with him that night. He deserves this fight as much as Sam does.”
Nonetheless, Funeka has remained a fighting contender ever since, going on the road and battling some of the sport’s top stars. Last year, he upset previously undefeated Russian prospect Viskhan “Little Tyson” Murzabekov (12-0) by 12-round decision in his opponent’s homeland. More recently, the dangerous South African veteran fought a bloody battle with Jeff Horn (15-0-1), who last Saturday upset future Hall-of-Famer Manny Pacquiao to become the new World Boxing Organization (WBO) 147-pound division world champion. Funeka even dropped the tough Australian before being stopped in the sixth round of their fight last December in New Zealand.
Funeka represents a measuring stick for Vargas to gauge comparisons of him against some of the top welterweights in the world.
Will Vargas have an easier time with Funeka than Horn? The answer will be known Aug. 19.
Tickets, starting at $40.00, are on sale and available to purchase through Ticketmaster at this link.