Antonio Vargas will celebrate the one-year anniversary of his pro debut exactly as he began his career—in a Florida boxing ring with the Telemundo cameras rolling.
The 2016 U.S. Olympian—who turned pro last February on the 2017 season premiere of Boxeo Telemundo—will be featured on the inaugural installment of the 2018 Telemundo spring season, All Star Boxing Inc. announced Monday. Vargas will enjoy the benefit of a hometown showcase, as the Kissimmee native faces Mexico's Luis Fernando Saavedra on February 23 at the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida.
Headlining the show, Jonathan 'Bomba' Gonzalez meets series regular Ricardo 'Meserito' Rodriguez in a scheduled 10-round super flyweight battle.
Like Rodriguez, the 21-year old Vargas (5-0, 3KOs) is also quickly becoming a Telemundo favorite. His upcoming ring appearance will mark this sixth time in as many pro fights he will fight in Central Florida, and his fourth on a show where at least some portion of the evening aired on the popular Spanish network. His clash with Saavedra (7-4, 3KOs) will be his third at this very venue, including his second straight as he appeared at the local spot last November in the 2017 Telemundo season finale, a six-round decision win over previously unbeaten Jonathan Garza in his most recent ring appearance.
While it's been a steady stream of ring activity in year one for Vargas, such has not quite been the case for Jeyvier Cintron. The two-time Puerto Rico Olympic boxer—who was the island's lone representative in the 2016 Rio Olympics—fought just twice in his first year as a pro and not since last July.
Efforts to return to the ring sooner were thwarted by Hurricane Maria, with many in Puerto Rico still without power to this day and his own family and friends greatly affected by the epically tragic storm. Cintron (2-0, 1KO) thought for sure last summer that he'd have fought at least his third pro fight before celebrating his 23rd birthday—which came earlier this month—but has accepted the hand he's been dealt as he and his handlers view 2018 as a fresh start and the first full year of his pro development.
"I remember when Jeyvier made his pro debut at this arena (last April)," All Star Boxing Inc. head Felix "Tutico" Zabala Jr. told FightNights.com. "The crowd went wild when he entered the ring and fans have been asking when he will return. Family and health come first, and we're all grateful that he and his loved ones are safe and sound following last year's hurricane disasters. Now he's ready to fully resume his career in the ring, and that begins February 23."
Cintron's opponent has not yet been named.
As for Vargas, the local love affair continues.
"We're honored to be entrusted with the development of Antonio as he transitions from newcomer to prospect," says Zabala, a longtime business partner with Top Rank, whom promotes Vargas and Cintron. "Being from the area, he brings a special energy to each and every fight here and that love affair will continue with the 2018 season premiere of Boxeo Telemundo."