With a 10-0 record and boasting four knockouts, Alex “El Toro” Vargas, of Bellport, is a formidable contender hoping to earn a national title in his flourishing boxing career.
This Saturday, Sept. 4, he will fight another 9-0 contender, Jose Arellano, from Colorado, at the Paramount in Huntington.
The large crowds and venerable venues are home for Vargas, who made his debut as a winning amateur at the premier arena in Barclays Center in Brooklyn over four years ago.
“The Paramount is the biggest professional venue I’ve boxed in,” said Vargas, adding, “but I’m pretty conditioned. You get such an energy from the crowd, and you control their energy within. The nerves never go away, but I’ve gotten used to performing in front of thousands.”
At each match, Vargas selects a different color for his trunks, and T-shirts of the corresponding hue are given out to the audience. “It’s such an incredible sight: a sea of people in your color,” said Vargas.
For Saturday, Vargas has chosen purple and white. Sometimes inspired by fighters on television for his sartorial choice, Vargas said that “my heart decides” in the end.
The pandemic has allowed Vargas a more accessible training schedule, with grueling two-a-day sessions that involve a minimum of a 4-mile run, strength and conditioning, and sparring.
Diet is also key to Vargas being in Olympian shape—his nutritionist and coach, Anthony Timorello, dictates a strict meal plan and considers Vargas’s daily weight fluctuation to fine-tune his carbohydrate intake.
This week is the most difficult in the training plan, as Vargas is to shed approximately 15 pounds off his 155-pound frame to make the 140 weigh-in for the fight.
“I’m so used to the diet, I’ve always been on one,” said Vargas, “but the thirst is unquenchable. All the water is the tough part.”
While a tried-and-true warrior now, Vargas remembered first going professional, and not having headgear and using significantly smaller gloves to box with (amateur is 12 ounces, professional is 8 ounces.).
“Obviously, you feel the punches a lot more, but the headbutts and the elbows can cause cuts or swelling,” said Vargas.
The true starting point for Vargas’s career was as a young boy, boxing in his basement with his beloved, doting, and supportive father, Michael.
Falling in love with the sport on television, Vargas grew up admiring heavyweight fighter Mike Tyson for his style, demeanor, and dominance.
Vargas was particularly inspired by Tyson’s ability to overcome his smaller size, as he was often lighter and shorter than his opponents.
In the super lightweight division that Vargas is competing in this Saturday, it is expected to rely on speed and skill, as bouts normally last longer than heavyweight fights that have substantial knockouts.
“Power is something I have, but I definitely am working on harnessing,” said Vargas. “My father has always focused on footwork.”
Father Michael also encouraged Vargas to play other sports like football, wrestling and track, where he made lasting friendships, which are important to Vargas because “boxing can be a lonely sport.”
Vargas’s mother and sister also play a significant role in supporting his all-encompassing training, with his mother often cooking for his special dietary needs.
Getting to polish his skills at this higher level of boxing, Vargas has trained with Chris Algieri, IBF world champion Richard Commey, and WBA lightweight champion Chris Colbert, whom he credits for helping him gain the confidence for professional bouts.