Local boxer ready to fight
Alex Vargas started sparring with his dad at home when he was just a toddler, which turned more official when he put on boxing gloves at age 6. On Friday, Nov. 30, he’ll face his second opponent since going pro earlier this year. Vargas, 23, of Bellport, will face off against Jarrill Haadi at the Paramount in Huntington. In his second fight in 60 days, Vargas will look to make his first professional winning streak.
“As a pro, every fight counts,” he said.
Vargas first competed when he was 8 years old, and his dad, Michael, has been his trainer ever since. Michael Vargas learned boxing from his father as well, although he was never allowed to compete. But as a father, he passed the passion down to his son and continues to coach him today.
Alex Vargas fights in the welterweight category, which is 140-147 pounds. He hopes to reach 140 and stick to that for the near future. At 10 years old, he won a competition with the Junior Olympics. At Bellport High School, he played football and wrestled, but eventually made his way back to boxing in his senior year. That year, 2013, he won the New York Golden Gloves championship, a title that he fought for again this year, making the finals. In between those two tournaments, he attended Suffolk County Community College and SUNY Cortland, where he earned a degree in teaching English as a second language. But boxing is still a major factor in his life.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I want to take it as far as I can,” he said.
Alex Vargas, who works at Clare Rose by day, trains constantly and said discipline is the most important skill when boxing professionally. His father agreed, saying that Alex has dedicated himself to getting better and doing what he has to do to stay successful. He has a strict running routine and caters his training based on each opponent. He and his team study the opponent, look for weaknesses, and try to build up a strong fight. Michael Vargas said so far the strategy has worked.
The training and discipline are hard work, but it’s something he is committed to. He’s even worked with boxers like Joe Smith Jr. of Mastic and Luis Callazo of Brooklyn and currently trains at Finest Fitness on Main Street in Patchogue, where he has made the second floor boxing training room his home away from home. Those who attend the gym and work there know him, his team and his goal.
Vargas’s manager, Nick Garone of X-Cel Worldwide, said he was drawn to the fighter by his constant pushing and work ethic.
“One of the things that drew me to him was his dedication, his integrity, and the fact that he has tremendous upside,” Garone said.
Garone has been in the boxing industry for 25 years and saw something special in Vargas that made him want to work with him. Vargas has big goals, including winning a world championship, but is also focused on being present in his hometown.
“I’m a Long Island kid,” he said. “I want to grow my name out here.”
Fighting professionally has only amplified his training efforts. Vargas said the gloves are smaller and fighters need to be more careful in their technique. Despite not fighting professionally himself, Michael Vargas has learned the necessary skills and strategies to help his son succeed. He coached him in his early days, but knew that when his son needed space, he could rely on other coaches to provide guidance. He said the training relationship isn’t really complicated, and both of them remain committed to success. As a father, Michael Vargas said it’s a little hard for him to see his son have so many restrictions on his time, between working full-time and having such a strict diet and exercise routine. Sometimes, he just wants to see him relax and enjoy life. But recognizing that this is his son’s dream, he supports him.
“I’m behind him 100 percent,” he added.
The Friday event at the Paramount is a comeback for Long Island boxer Chris Algieri, who is returning to Huntington after four years, now as a world champion. The event is hosted by Star Boxing and will feature several undercard fights before the main event, including Vargas’s. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the first bout is at 7:30 p.m.
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