As it turns out, Jessie Vargas had vacated his junior welterweight belt before he even stepped into the ring to face Timothy Bradley Jr. for a welterweight title on June 27 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Many believed that whatever happened in the fight, Vargas would decide afterward whether he would remain at 147 pounds and defend his new belt or return to 140 to defend his other belt.
However, he had already vacated his title at 140. The reason? Cameron Dunkin, Vargas' manager, and Carl Moretti of Top Rank, his promoter, told ESPN.com that the WBA, whose belt he held, was seeking a $40,000 payment from his $600,000 purse to allow him to fight Bradley in the non-junior welterweight title bout.
Vargas, wisely, elected to keep the $40k. As it was, Dunkin said he paid a far more reasonable and legitimate $18,000 fee to the WBO to sanction the welterweight title bout with Bradley, which Vargas lost by unanimous decision. Vargas hurt Bradley badly in the waning seconds of the fight only to have it cut short by seven seconds when referee Pat Russell mistakenly stopped the bout after hearing the 10-second clapper, which he thought was the final bell.
"The WBA wanted $40,000. I have no idea for what," Dunkin said. "And then there was $18,000 to the WBO. We understand that. It's their title fight. But to pay out $58,000 in sanction fees on a $600,000 purse? Are you crazy? That's a lot of money."
Dunkin said Vargas (26-1, 9 KOs) is going to remain at 147 pounds anyway, so he would not have returned to 140 to defend that belt.
"I don't want him making 140 anymore. He's so big," Dunkin said. "He will stay at 147 and he'll work to get stronger and bigger, and I believe he will stay with [new trainer] Erik Morales and try to become a more aggressive fighter. Look, he had Tim hurt bad at the end of the fight. There are good fights for him at 147."
What that next bout will be is up in the air. Dunkin said he spent time on Tuesday talking with Top Rank boss Bob Arum and Moretti about the next fight and they are going through scenarios. Dunkin did say, however, that Vargas would fight again before the end of the year.
Vargas, 26, wound up making two title defenses of his so-called "regular" title after winning the belt in April 2014. Lineal champion Danny Garcia was the WBA's top champion throughout Vargas' reign.