||This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Real name||Martín Vargas Fuentes|
|Rated at||Junior flyweight|
January 24, 1955 |
|Wins by KO||63|
Martín Vargas Fuentes (born January 24, 1955 in Osorno) is a former boxer from Chile, who represented his native country at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. He attempted to obtain Chile's first boxing world title four times. Although he failed, this fact helped him become a national idol in Chile.
On March 23, 1973, Vargas made his professional debut, beating Martín Muñoz by a decision in six rounds. He won twelve fights in a row before drawing (tying) with Nelson Muñoz on December 13, 1973. In 1974, he tasted defeat for the first time when he was knocked out in seven rounds by Alfredo Alcayaga. On October 11 of that same year, he and Alcayaga had a rematch, this time with the Chilean national flyweight title at stake. Vargas avenged his first defeat with a seven-round knockout win. One month later, he had his first fight abroad, a ten-round draw with Carlos Escalante in Buenos Aires.
After fourteen wins in a row, Vargas had a chance to add the South American regional belt to his resume, and he did so by knocking out Gonzalo Cruz in round one on December 20, 1975 in Santiago. He defended that title twice, and after beating Carlos Escalante in their Uruguay rematch, Vargas' win streak reached 27 wins in a row.
On September 17, 1977, he fought for the world title for the first time; World Boxing Council world flyweight champion Miguel Canto defeated Vargas by a fifteen-round decision in Yucatán, Mexico. Vargas had one more win: two months after their first fight, Vargas once again challenged Canto, this time in Santiago. Canto broke the hearts of most Vargas fans on November 30, 1977 by defeating the hometown favorite, again by a fifteen-round decision.
On April 22 of 1978, Vargas beat future world champion Alfonso López of Panama by a knockout in round one to defend his South American title with success. On November 4 of that year, he challenged World Boxing Association (WBA) world champion Betulio González in the champion's hometown of Maracay, Venezuela, but González retained the crown with a twelfth-round knockout victory. This defeat was followed by thirteen wins in a row, including points wins over future world champions Joey Olivo and Rafael Pedroza (cousin of Eusebio Pedroza). Vargas then traveled to Japan, where on June 1 he lost by a knockout in round eight what turned out to be his last world title bid to WBA world Junior flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken.
After the Gushiken fight, Vargas had a rather ordinary record of 21 wins and 7 losses before retiring for the first time in 1987. He did, however, add another regional title to his trophy case when he beat Delis Rojas on July 23, 1982 by a decision in twelve rounds in Miami, to earn the WBC's continental Americas' flyweight title.
Having retired, Vargas' legend continued to grow among Chileans, many of whom spoke of the many times Vargas seemed to be close to become Chile's first world boxing champion. He is still seen by many as the best boxer ever to come out of that country, and as a national hero of Chile.
In 1997, ten years after his original retirement, Vargas attempted a comeback. His first fight back was videotaped by a crew making a documentary film about him, and he defeated Gerónimo Rojas by a knockout in round two on July 4. On February 7, 1998, he added the Chilean Super Flyweight title to his collection of regional titles with a first-round knockout over José Carmona. One month later, he beat Juan Lielmil, also by knockout in round one, to regain the Chilean flyweight title. But after losing to Joel García, by knockout in round one on July 31 of that same year, he decided to retire permanently.
Vargas had a record of 91 wins, 15 losses and 3 draws, his 62 knockout wins making him a member of the exclusive group of fighters who have won 50 or more fights by knockout. In addition to the documentary about his comeback, a biographical movie about him was also produced in Chile.