Two months before you defend your newly-won world title for the third time is perhaps not the best time to enlist the services of a new trainer. But when is the best time? And if you have just come under the tutelage of one of the all-time greats in Roy Jones Jr. after your former coach effectively hung you out to dry so close to your big night, things could definitely be worse. The phrase ‘landing on your feet’ comes to mind. This is how WBA World Light Welterweight Champion Jessie Vargas and his new trainer Roy Jones Jr. got together, so Sean Zettel spoke with Vargas ahead of his Novemeber 22nd clash with Antonio DeMarco in Macau, China, to get more details.
Vargas spoke in glowing terms about his newly acquired mentor, and seemed in awe that he is being taught by the man who toyed with every opponent he faced throughout his heyday in the nineties, earning recognition as the best in the world pound-for-pound.
“It’s really unexplainable, he has so much knowledge and he’s a boxing encyclopedia like he says. Each time we sit down and talk I’m absorbing it like a sponge you know, all the information he gives me. It’s a lot of information but it’s for the better, and I’m a student of the sport I’ve always said it, and I’m only getting better. You’re gonna see a different fighter on November 22nd.”
In light of Vargas’s somewhat flaky relationships with multiple trainers in the past, Zittell asked whether Vargas thought this new arrangement could possibly last in the long term.
“Definitely, without a doubt. There’s not a doubt in my mind that me and Roy will be together for a long time. The chemistry is there, we built such a good bond right away. How could you not pay attention to one of the greatest in the sport? Everything he says, he not only says it but he can show me. I try to give my fans the best performance possible and for that I have to continue to improve, continue to progress, and I have one of the greatest in the sport right now teaching me everything he knows and I’m just very thankful.”
Hopefully Vargas can find some solidity with a trainer. Even though he has captured a version of a world title he still wants to become a better fighter, which is an admirable trait when it would be easy for him to think that he has already arrived at the big dance.
“I just became world champion this year, my dream is to stay with one teacher, stay with one team and I hope that I have that in Roy and we can stick together through it all.”
A chance encounter at a fundraiser in one of Jones’s gyms brought the pair in to contact with each other after Vargas’s former trainer, Ismael Salas, accepted an offer to train in England, leaving the Las Vegas native in his wake to do so. It may be a blessing in disguise as Vargas evidently believes.