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Having been fortunate enough to have being born in California certainly has afforded me an opportunity to see some excellent boxing talent mature. One such lad I got to watch from the crib to the title is IBF 154 lb. Champion "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas, of Osnard, CA.

He brings an undefeated mark of 15-0, (ALL KO's) into the Madison Square Garden ring tomorrow night when he faces Howard Clarke in his initial defense of the belt he took from Yory Boy Campas in December.

Originally pencilled in for an appearance on Ring Talk last Saturday, Fernando asked for a reprieve due to the fact that he and his family were still reeling over the death of his grandmother. The IBF champ agreed to appear the next night, on Ring Talk Sunday, a show on Talk America "2" that also featured HBO's Larry Merchant.

After offering my condolences, the Oxnard Kid and I got down to talking boxing.

RT-Training camp go well? 

FFV-It went great. We did cut it a little short because of the fact that my grandma passed away, and we had to bury her and everything. (Deep breath) Funeral arrangements and everything. I'll be leaving to New York tomorrow (Monday 3-8) but it went great. I'm in shape, and I'm dedicating the fight to my grandma. 

RT-I'm sorry. Let's go on to a happier note. This is your first title defense. What's it like? Do you feel added pressure in defending for the first time, vs. winning it?   

FFV-Well, I look forward to it. I know that a lot of people are interested in seeing what Fernando Vargas can do. And I'm just glad I got the opportunity to fight on such a great undercard like the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield undercard. It's great exposure. And we're looking for bigger and better fights. Like, we're trying to get (Ike) Quartey in the ring, cause I heard he's moving up. So, hopefully we can make that fight in a couple of months.

RT-Now, you are willing to fight these tough guys, while your buddy Oscar De La Hoya…. What's this I heard you went on the Jim Rome show and had some words about Oscar. I'll tell you what I heard. I'm told that Oscar accused your friends of throwing eggs at him at some parade. Give me the scoop on that? 

FFV-Well, Oscar likes to blame other people for what the Mexican people do to him. I was invited to be in a parade up in East L.A. after the Olympic Games and I saw people with baskets of eggs, egg cartons and stuff. While I was in the parade he was the Grand Marshall, and I thought they were going to throw them at me. But, it seems they threw them all at him. He wanted to blame my family, cause those were the only ones I took with me, I didn't get to take my friends. So, he tried to say it was my friends that threw eggs at him all up and down the street. I don't have that "many" friends anyway. 

RT-Isn't this a smoke screen? He just doesn't want to face the prospect of fighting you real soon. 

FFV-That's what he says, that he doesn't want to fight Fernando Vargas because of the fact that I disrespected him. If that is the case, that should be an even bigger reason to fight me. 

RT-Here is a chance for Oscar to prove he is down with La Raza. You catch what I'm saying. You two guys, both Mexican Americans hook it up at 154 lbs. The better man wins, and he is the champion of the Mexican American community. Let's do this Fernando. 

FFV-Tell me where to sign. 

RT-We've tried to get the Golden Girl to appear on the show, but he's sort of been ducking Pedro. He doesn't want to hear the realities of the boxing world. He'll appear on other guy's shows that will kiss his ass, but obviously I won't do that. You know I won't do that Fernando. Talk to me. What does Howard Clarke bring to the dance? 

FFV-Well, Howard Clarke just got done beating a guy that was 33-3, so his record is not all that great, but I'm not looking past him. I got to be ready for this cat because I know he is probably training the hardest he's ever trained in his life. He's fighting for the world title, so I'm not underestimating Howard Clarke. He comes to fight, and has a stiff jab. That's pretty much what I've seen (on video). He will fight you, and I look forward to see how long he fights me for. 

RT-Here's what's up. David Reid was on the show last week and I brought your name up. Here is what he said, quote. Are you ready for this? 


RT-He said, "Fernando's got to fight a few fights before he's at my level. Do you want to respond to that? 

FFV-Oh no, he didn't say that. He said that? 

RT-I'm not going to lie to you, my listeners heard it. 

FFV-Oh my God he needs to fight……Oh man, I liked David Reid, but if he is starting to talk, I mean, I don't think he has anything to talk about after how he looked against (Laurent) Boudouani. That's all I got to say. 

RT-Is WBA champ David Reid in your future, talking that kind of smack? 

FFV-Well, let's do it this year then! As soon as I saw him fight Boudouani yesterday, I called my manager Shelley (Finkel) and I said Shelley, make the fight this year please. If you can make it my next fight, I'd love to have it. I mean, I have no problem in fighting David Reid. I beat the best champion out there Yory Boy Campas. And I did it without getting tagged, or looking sloppy. I was able to dethrone a great champion, and take him out, stop him, make him quit. And I don't think that David Reid looked like that kind of fighter against Boudouani. But I look forward to making that fight. I'd love to fight him, I don't know why David Reid is talking now. If he's talking, I like the guy and I never heard him talk about me like that. If that's the case, let's make the fight tomorrow.

RT-I wouldn't lie to you. 

FFV-I know. Let's do this in '99. I told Shelley, and he told me that they won't take the fight right now. They won't do it right now. And I'm willing to fight anybody. I want to fight Quartey next, that's one of the things I want to do. He's moving up, it would be a great fight for me. And then I'll go after David Reid.

RT-There's a hobo holding the WBC title in Javier Castelayo. 

FFV-Yeah, Pedro this is my division. I'm going to go out there and unify this division. I don't feel there is anybody at 154 lbs. that can beat Fernando Vargas, whether they move up, or they're already at my weight. So, I don't care. I'm ready to take on who ever is out there. I proved myself against a great fighter like Yory Boy Campas, I just got to keep on doing the same. I look forward to fighting fighters like that. I'm not ducking nobody, at all. I don't want people to talk about me and say he's oh well, he's ducking this fighter. I'm not ducking nobody. 

RT-You keep bringing up "ducking," who are you alluding to as far as ducking people? 

FFV- (laughing) People, people know. I don't have to say any names. I look and see other people's mistakes, and I just feel I have to be respected. And the way you are going to be respected in this game is to fight the best, and beat the best. And I look forward to doing that. I want to pick up another belt by the end of this year. And I'm going to try and work the thing with David Reid, hopefully I can pick that (WBA) one up. (Oscar's promoter) Bob Arum is holding that Spaniard for De La Hoya. But, if I have another belt (two) and he's going to fight him. Well, who else is he going to fight? 

RT-This is what I hear the strategy is. They move him to 154 for one fight, and then go back down. Can you dog him enough at that point to keep him at 154 so you guys can get it on? Or do you think he's going to be a little bitch and go back to 147? 

FFV-He says he will never give me the chance because, I disrespected him! (Laughing).   

RT-Fernando, if I disrespected you in the way Oscar is accusing you, you'd be on my doorstep.

FFV-In a second! I've done some interviews, and the fact that I disrespected him, and that this kid. He said this kid, I will never give this kid a chance. I think the real issue is Oscar afraid of this kid! I mean, I'm 21 years old and I don't have any respect for that man what so ever. So, we can do it anyway he wants it, wherever he wants it. And I know fighters want to fight him for the money. But that ain't me. I want fight him because it is personal to me. You know, it's personal to me. And if he thinks I'm for the money we can do this, like I've said it before, we can put it on paper, winner takes all. If he's so confident that he can beat Fernando Vargas, then do this. Winner takes all! I don't think that's too much to ask. 

RT-That would be for La Raza, the biggest fight between Mexicans ever if he'd do it.   

FFV-But he's not in my weight, right now. The real person I want to go after is David Reid. He's said a few things on the show. And he's the one not on my level. We can compare both championship fights. Me against Yory Boy Campas, and him against Boudouani. So, I want to pick up this title against David Reid. Now, it's something that is a must for this year. I'm going to try and force them to take the fight.


In depth interviews like this with world junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas can only be heard on Ring Talk, a syndicated talk show host with the Talk America Radio Network(s) that airs both Saturday and Sunday evenings at 11 PM ET with LIVE Internet audio at


Others boast of "superstar interviews" and the like. But in reality they are nothing more than transparent pat on the back question and answer sessions that seem almost choreographed.


As he descends towards 175 lbs., James "Lights Out" Toney will be one of my guests on Ring Talk this Saturday night at 11:06 PM ET on the Talk America "1" Radio Network with LIVE Internet audio at


While the show is in progress, so should be the Holyfield-Lewis fight. I will be taking your electronic mail at and on the toll free (US, Canada, & Puerto Rico) Ring Talk studio lines.


My Sunday night sit down with HBO's Larry Merchant will be one of the features on the Sunday night show which is heard on another network, the Talk America "2" Network, aka "The Deuce."


While Saturday's show is two hours in duration, Sunday Ring Talk airs for an hour on Talk "2" with LIVE Internet audio at


You are on the wrong Talk America Network and need to change channels.


There are some boxing fans in Australia that listen to Ring Talk in both Sydney, and Brisbane at 2:00 PM on Sunday afternoon via the Net at


Ring Talk, in it's 13th year, truly is the "insider's look into the world of boxing."

Pedro Fernandez

Note: The writer has his own site at and can be reached at with your comments.

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