Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fighting Mad in Vegas Vargas Vows to Hurt Thompson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fighting Mad in Vegas Vargas Vows to Hurt Thompson

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS -- Fernando Vargas was looking for some motivation to fight Ross Thompson. He got it when Thompson decided to test his chin before the two even had a chance to lace on the gloves.

Vargas was fuming after Thompson lunged at him at Thursday's pre-fight news conference, and the two traded punches before finally being separated.

"I'm going to make him pay. I'm going to punish him," Vargas said. "I will definitely knock him out."

Thompson's outburst made tonight's IBF 154-pound title defense by Vargas far more interesting for both the champion and those biding their time for Vargas' planned Dec. 2 megafight against Felix Trinidad.

A 30-1 favorite earlier in the week, Vargas admitted he was having trouble getting up for Thompson, whom he is fighting only because he is the IBF's mandatory No. 1 challenger.

No more, after Thompson cut Vargas inside his mouth with a right hand at the news conference, then was decked by a left hook from the champion.

"He's going to get hurt," Vargas said. "That was the biggest fight he had, right there."

The fight from the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino tops a card that includes a fight for the vacant IBF welterweight title between undefeated Vernon Forrest and Raul Frank. HBO will televise the card beginning at 10:30 p.m.

Before Thompson turned a normally placid news conference into a wild melee, Vargas had been looking at the fight as nothing more than a chance to pick up $1 million and to get some work in before meeting Trinidad.

That was what irritated Thompson, a Buffalo, N.Y., fighter who has battled problems in and out of the ring since being an alternate on the 1992 Olympic team.

"None of these people have seen Ross Thompson fight," Thompson said. "I've been through a lot. I'm going to win this title. I don't care what people say."

Thompson (25-3-1, 16 knockouts) does have some things going for him that the oddsmakers may have overlooked. …

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