When former two-division world titlist Jessie Vargas knocked out Sadam Ali in the ninth round to claim the WBO welterweight belt in March 2016, he did so at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. Now, Vargas is hoping to spend a lot more time in Washington, but not for any boxing reasons.
Although Vargas, 32, of Las Vegas, still has plans in the works for his next, possibly against Liam Smith early next year, on Monday he announced that he is running for the United States House of Representatives for the seat in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District in the 2022 election. Touting that he is a former Democrat who has switched parties and will run as a Republican, Vargas is seeking the seat held by Democrat Steven Horsford.
“I’m not a politician, and that’s exactly what we need in D.C.,” Vargas said. “We need non-politicians who will fight for us and get things done. We need a fighter who will fight to control Washington spending and inflation, improve our schools and keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. This is the biggest fight of my life. I will fight for Nevadans to protect the American Dream.”
Vargas, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico before Vargas was born, said he wants to make a difference.
“I am running for congress to make a difference,” said Vargas, who was born in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas as a youngster. “To make a positive impact in my community, to devote my time to finding a way to help my constituents — my community — the community that saw me grow up as a child, the community that gave me so much, the country that gave me an abundance of opportunities, which I’m very thankful for, and my gratitude extends to a point to where I want to give back. I want to be in a position where I’m able to make a positive impact on others.
“I love America. Every person living in this country should be in love with this country that gives us so much. Yes, we’re in a tough situation right now. Yes, we’re going through a lot of issues, a lot of problems. But this is still a beautiful country, and we want to keep those opportunities that were given to me and others to everyone else living here. … And that’s why I’m running for Congress.”
He added that he is disenchanted with the direction President Joe Biden has taken the United States in, and that is why he decided to switch his party affiliation to Republican.
“The American dream came true for me, but Washington’s liberal policies are making it harder for everyone,” Vargas said. “I want the American dream to come true for my daughter and for all the people of District 4.”
Politics will now be a big part of Vargas’ life, but boxing still also remains important.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told World Boxing News that he is trying to finalize a fight between Vargas and former world titleholder Liam Smith (30-3-1, 17 KOs), 33, of England.
Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KOs), a former junior welterweight and welterweight world titlist, has said for ages he wanted to move up to junior middleweight.
He knocked out Humberto Soto in the sixth round in April 2019 at 150 pounds on his way up to fighting as a full-fledged 154-pound junior middleweight, but then he got an offer he could not refuse to face Mikey Garcia at welterweight. So, Vargas fought Garcia at 147 pounds but has not boxed since losing a competitive and fan-friendly unanimous decision to him on Feb. 29, 2020, at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas, in a DAZN main event promoted by Matchroom Boxing. Garcia knocked Vargas down in the fifth round and won 116-111, 116-111, and 114-113.
Hearn said that although the fight between Vargas and Smith is not yet finalized, he is targeting it to headline a DAZN card in January in Las Vegas.
Smith lost a 12-round decision to unbeaten Magomed Kurbanov on May 7 in Kurbanov’s hometown of Ekaterinburg, Russia, but bounced back for an impressive eighth-round knockout, including two knockdowns, of Anthony Fowler on Oct. 9 in their hometown of Liverpool, England.