LAS VEGAS — The Cotto-Canelo undercard showcased one of the more brutal fights of 2015 and a Fight of the year contender in Francisco Vargas’s (22-0-1, 17 KOs) comeback knockout win over Takashi Miura (29-3-2, 22 KOs).
Miura was nearly KO’d in the first round from a hard counter right and took heavy punishment to the head in the second. Starting in the third, Miura began to storm back with ripping body shots and powerful southpaw straight lefts.
Miura’s straight left produced a vicious knockdown in the fourth that also created blood and swelling under the right eye. But Vargas refused to go away and kept competitive with a high workrate that offset Miura’s straight-left heavy offense.
Miura managed to hurt Vargas badly with that shot at the end of the eighth and seemed primed to finish the bout. But at the start of the ninth, Vargas caught Miura with a straight right followed by an uppercut and left hook for a knockdown. Miura got up quickly and tried to continually hold to buy time. Vargas remained relentless with his power shots and forced referee Tony Weeks to halt the contest.
Scorecards at the finish had Miura ahead on two (77-74, 76-75) and one even (75-75). The win gives Vargas the WBC super featherweight strap, his first title.
“I knew I had to be very aggressive, and I showed that in the first round so he knew that I would not be bullied,” said Vargas. “When I was knocked down in the fourth round, I felt even more motivated to win this fight. I made sure to fight the way I wanted, how I wanted and my style and now I’m champion of the world!”
Miura suffers his first defeat since 2011 and ends his WBC reign with four defenses.