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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- JULY 27:2001
Finding the Answers
by Tom Stewart

Last night in Las Vegas it was because he was "rusty" despite the fact that he said he had been in the gym since May. When the dough-fisted Wilfredo Rivera short-circuited him to near blackout on Cinco de Mayo it was because "…these are good fighters I’m fighting…they’re not bums". Over the past week he said it was sometimes because he ate too much food between fights and didn’t always train like he should - but on this night he said he was in shape. Whatever the excuse, maybe it’s time that Fernando Vargas realized that the fistic witch doctor from Puerto Rico named Felix Trinidad cast a mysterious spell over him from which he’ll never recover.

Fernando Vargas’ current plight is not without historical precedence. When Roberto Duran came back to life and brutally usurped Davey Moore’s pugilistic skills from him in Madison Square Garden in 1983 everyone figured that Davey Moore would learn from the experience and come back better than ever to fully maximize his promising potential. However, the story of Davey Moore was a sorry one and after the defeat at Duran’s hands of stone he was never the same. Moore continued his career but he never again won a world title. You see, the great Duran had unashamedly crippled the callow Moore. The fog in which Duran left him on that New York night in 1983 would never lift. Over the next five years Moore would lose nearly as often as he would win and by the time his twenty-seventh birthday arrived nobody recognized Davey Moore as the young man that had won the WBA Jr. Middleweight title in only his ninth pro fight at the age of 22.

The beating that Felix Trinidad heaped upon Fernando Vargas' shoulders in December of last year is eerily similar to the one that Roberto Duran inflicted upon Davey Moore in 1983. Both Moore and Vargas were at the pubescent stage of their respective careers and they endured frightful, rythmic poundings that prove very difficult for a young fighter to crawl out from under. Last night against Shibata Flores, for the same WBA Jr. Middleweight Title belt that once adorned Davey Moore’s waist, the aftershocks of the Trinidad quake still appear to be rippling through Fernando Vargas’ confidence and abilities.

Last night’s supposed fodder, Shibata Flores, was once a hired hand for Fernando Vargas. It was Flores’ job to dutifully serve "El Feroz" and make him look good and feel good and get ready. Nobody gave Shibata Flores much chance of conquering Vargas and the Vegas bookmakers felt the same since one had to put down a thousand bucks on Vargas to win in order to walk away from the betting cage window with $111. The night and the fight were supposed to be a coronation of sorts for the young man from Oxnard, California. But if the happenings of the evening really accomplished anything it simply demonstrated that Fernando Vargas is still lost in the dark, uncertain woods that Felix Trinidad left him in nine months ago.

Fernando Vargas found his back to the ropes a few times last night and while there he was peppered with several good shots to the head. Shibata Flores is a limited and awkward southpaw whose fighting style resembles a crab lurching out from under a piece of driftwood ready to clip onto whatever his looping punches can find. If a person had a few dollars bet on Vargas, last night’s affair was much more anxious than it should otherwise have been. It’s tough to describe the way Vargas fights now, but Shibata Flores’ efforts shouldn’t have been able to make Vargas look as bad as they sometimes did. Vargas was throwing punches like a man trapped underwater and everything he did seemed forced and thought about well in advance. Vargas looked like a kid that crammed all night for a big test, gets the test down on the desk in front of him - and he still doesn’t know the correct answers to any of the riddles that are confronting him. In order for a fighter to be successful those answers have to flow out of him naturally and without trepidation. Whenever Yory Boy Campas or Winky Wright or Raul Marquez or Ike Quartey asked Fernando Vargas a question the "pre-Trinidad" El Feroz always responded with a sharp and accurate answer, but both Wilfredo Rivera and Shibata Flores have been able to easily stump what was once a young fistic prodigy.

Looking back, Davey Moore just didn’t have the answers for the myriad of questions that the ring educated professor Roberto Duran fired at him in 1983 and at that budding stage of his career he should not have been expected to know. The exam had come too early in Davey’s education and Moore didn’t have the knowledge to compete. Davey Moore never did uncover the answers, and in the next five years of his studies he was eventually consumed by the black holes in his fistic apprenticeship.

Let’s hope that Fernando Vargas can find the answers to the questions that Davey Moore never could.

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