In his highly anticipated return from back-to-back Fight of the Year performances, WBC Super Featherweight Champion Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) will open 2017 defending his title against fellow Mexican brawler Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt (30-1, 27 KOs) in a 12-round sure-fire all-action fight on January 28 from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino to be televised live on the season premiere of HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET.
In the 12-round televised special feature of the slugfest in the desert, Vargas’ 2015 Fight of the Year opponent and former WBC Super Featherweight World Champion Takashi Miura (30-3-2, 23 KOs) of Akita, Japan, will build on his reputation of fighting the best when he goes head-to-head with former featherweight and lightweight contender Miguel “Mickey” Roman (56-11, 43 KOs) of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
“Boxing fans know what to expect every time I step in to the ring – and that is a war,” Vargas said. “I am aware of my opponent’s knockout power, but he’s never faced a true world champion, and I am confident I will come out on top.”
Vargas, from Mexico City, is coming off a majority draw with Orlando “Siri” Salido in a 2016 non-stop action fight that cemented Vargas’ reputation as one of the toughest boxers in the sport. He now faces Berchelt, who has knocked out 27 opponents in his 30 professional victories.
“I’m going to shock the boxing world on January 28,” Berchelt said. “This is the opportunity I have been looking forward to.”
In the co-main, the heavy-handed Miura – who was scheduled to take on Salido before he withdrew with an injury — will look to get back into title contention, taking on a rugged knockout specialist in Roman.
“I am excited to return to the United States and fight in such an exciting bout with Mickey Roman,” Miura said. “I was very disappointed when I lost to Vargas, but I have rededicated myself and am excited to begin my journey towards winning back my title.”
“I am performing better than ever in my career, and I am looking forward to showing my skills against Miura,” said Roman, who comes into the bout riding an impressive 18-fight winning streak. “My goal has always been to be a world champion and I am hopeful that after I win this fight, I can get another title shot.”
“Fans love knockouts, and these four guys have 110 KOs among the four of them,” noted Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “We are excited to open our 2017 HBO year showcasing the kind of action-packed fights that will get people up and out of their seats from start to finish.”