Fernando and Emiliano, Vargas and Son

“Emiliano, I mean… he’s the man there,” Oscar De La Hoya said while pointing at Emiliano Vargas. “He is the man! I love his style. I love what everyone at Top Rank and Bob [Arum] are doing with Emiliano. There is nobody better than Bob Arum, this is for sure.”

The sharply dressed 19 year old had joined De La Hoya, Arum and Oscar Valdez on stage to promote his lightweight contest with Nelson Hampton on the undercard of Valdez-Liam Wilson on March 29 in Glendale, Arizona. Watching from the crowd at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas was his proud father Fernando Vargas – De La Hoya’s one-time opponent, and a retired light-middleweight world champion 

“Bob Arum knows how to build fighters from the ground up,” said Vargas Sr, while stood next to Vargas Jr, to ProBox TV. “I’m very excited for my son; he really puts in the work. All three of my sons put in the work.”

Emiliano joins his two older brothers Fernando Jr and Amado Vargas in the family trade. Their father consistently entertained as the bad boy with a fearsome punch. Controversy rarely strayed far too far.

“Everything he is going to go through, I have already been through,” the 46-year-old Fernando added. “So I’ll know what to tell him. I’ll know how he is feeling and tell him why he is feeling a certain way. I know what to say and what not to say. I support my son 110 per cent. I’m excited about this upcoming fight.

“People ask me, ‘Was your son better than you when you were that age?’. I would go, ‘To be honest with you, he's better than me’. I knew how to do certain moves. I could move to southpaw, but that was the extent of it. They would throw a punch at me and I would come back orthodox.”

Compared to his father, Emiliano cuts a more refined figure as his professional career evolves. Fernando, regardless of how proud they make him, initially had other plans for his children.

“He asked me one day if he could come to train in my gym,” he explained. “I said, ‘Let’s go, son’ and that is all she wrote. But, I didn’t want them to fight. I didn’t want Amado to fight; I didn’t want Fernando to fight. But my compadre said to me ‘How are you going to tell them not to fight when you used to fight?’ I have to support them. That is why I am here.”

Emiliano's boxing abilities perhaps compare favourably with his father’s. His slickness so far exceeds his ruggedness. He was recognised by ESPN as their prospect of the year, and is among Top Rank’s most promising prospects. 

“My dad did a hell of a job raising me and my brothers,” e said as his father looked again at him with pride. “I never had to look into the refrigerator and there was nothing there. I was always fed; I was actually overfed. But, I just fell in love with it, man. 

“First sparring I fell in love with it; my first amateur fight and I fell in love with it. Look, God has brought us all this way and we are not done with it yet; he didn’t bring me this far just to bring me this far.

“My dad’s favourite fight has to be against Raul Marquez [a stoppage victory in 1999]. The angles and everything. The trunks! The hair was on point, you know what I’m saying.”

“Nobody was going to beat me that night,” Fernando added.

“It was a beautiful night,” Emiliano continued. “But, I’m a student of the game; I watch everybody. I watch Oscar; my dad; Valdez; ‘Canelo’ [Saul Alvarez] obviously. I just like to pick up different things from different fighters and put it to use.”

“It is not up to me,” Fernando then said. “Top Rank knows what they are doing at bringing fighters from the ground up as promoters. I’m not here to rush anything. Whatever comes, however they want to do it, we are going to do it. We will be ready for it, that is 110 per cent true.”

Emiliano has scored highlight reel knockouts while stopping seven of his first eight opponents. His father secured a world title at 21 years old when he defeated the far more experienced Luis Ramon Campas for the IBF super welterweight in 1998, just two years older than his son in the present day. 

“I want to be in line for a world title and ranked in the top 15,” Emiliano said of his plans for 2024. “I want to be ready to fight for a world title in 2025.”