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Berchelt stops Vargas in 6th round to retain title

TUCSON, Ariz. — Miguel Berchelt retained his WBC junior lightweight title at the Convention Center on Saturday night as he again defeated Francisco Vargas in six rounds in an entertaining yet increasingly one-sided battle that was waved off by Vargas’ corner.

Vargas (25-2-2, 18 KOs) fought gamely and at times matched the activity of Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs), but he was simply overwhelmed and engulfed by the combination punching of Berchelt, who punctuated many of his salvos with crunching left hooks to the body.

And while Vargas landed his share of leather, his punches didn’t have the same impact as Berchelt’s. At age 34, Vargas was worn down by the steady two-fisted attack that came his way. Vargas put up a brave fight, but the effect of so many past ring wars against the likes of Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido appear to have simply taken their toll. By contrast, the 27-year-old Berchelt looks to be in his physical prime and is just hitting his stride as a fighter.

The first few rounds were close, but Berchelt was busier, landing the harder shots that had more impact. And by the fifth frame it was obvious that again Berchelt would simply be too much for Vargas, whom Berchelt stopped in January 2017 to claim the 130-pound belt. In the sixth round, Berchelt ramped up his attack to the body. As Vargas trudged back to the corner, there was a realization that there was nothing he could really do to turn the tide of the bout — and they were only halfway through.

Which is why cornerman Joel Diaz decided to wave off the fight. While Vargas was more than willing to fight on, Diaz realized that would be a losing proposition.

Even in defeat, Vargas earned the respect of Berchelt, who said, “I did what I said I was going to do in the ring. More importantly, I want to thank Francisco ‘Bandido’ Vargas. He’s a true Mexican warrior, and more than anything, let me tell you, he gave me my first opportunity at a world title. So, it was only fair that I would give him a shot to win his world title back. But his corner did the right thing in saving him from more punishment.”

Berchelt has now defended his title five times, and he has spoken openly of his desire to face unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.

But he just might have some unfinished business at 130.

“I want to prove that I’m the best 130-pounder in the world. In [two weeks], it will be [Jamel] Herring taking on [WBO champion Masayuki] Ito. I want the winner of that fight because I don’t want to leave any doubt as to who the best super featherweight in the world is,” Berchelt said.

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