Fernando Vargas reveals how fighting sons helped to heal feud with Oscar De La Hoya
Fernando Vargas has ended feud with Oscar De La Hoya and the former world champion is now preparing his three sons to pursue title success
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 28/11/20 2:33pm
Fernando Vargas still refers to Oscar De La Hoya as the 'enemy' but somewhere between the end of his combustible career and the start of his sons' fighting education, the 'ferocious' former champion has found peace.
'El Feroz' Vargas sits in front of a boxing ring, sipping a coffee while his three boys flash ice-white smiles and occasionally aim a light-hearted riposte in his direction.
They are rumoured to be as equally talented between the ropes as they are relaxed in front of the lens, the heirs to Vargas Snr, who had given an unfiltered version of his own thoughts and feelings when someone brave or foolish stuck a mic in his direction.
"Have I been perfect? No, absolutely not. I don't think any father does, but I try my best," Vargas told The Toe 2 Toe podcast.
"I never had a dad. My dad was never there. My dad was a drug addict. My dad died a drug addict.
"It was difficult. Even though he wasn't scared to fight in the streets, but you don't just show your courage fighting in the streets.
"You also show your courage as a man by being with your family and taking care of your responsibilities and taking care of your children, because if you don't do that, you're not a man to me. You're not."
Vargas channelled the rage that stemmed from a troubled upbringing into his early fights, reeling off a succession of knockouts against opponents who could not cope with his unbridled aggression.
Following just 14 fights, he was fast-tracked into a world title clash with Yori Boy Campos, who Vargas admits 'played with him' in a past sparring session, provoking tears of frustration.
Vargas vowed to make him pay and followed up on his promises as Campos retired in his corner after the seventh round rather than spend another second in the ring with his 21-year-old tormentor.
Raul Marquez, Ronald 'Winky' Wright and Ike Quartey were all beaten by the whirring fists of the Californian until he suffered a 12th-round knockout loss to a fired-up Felix Trinidad.
"When people tell me about the Trinidad fight, I only remember bits and pieces of the fight.
"I told my wife, 'Baby, did it look bad when I went down? How many times did I go down?'
"She knows that I got knocked down five times and I got up all five, but that doesn't surprise me, because I know what type of man I am."
Vargas has passed on his boxing DNA to his sons, Fernando Jr, Amado and Emiliano.
Siblings often follow successful fathers into the ring and Conor Benn continues to cope well with the burden of his family name, sealing an impressive points victory over Sebastian Formella at the weekend.
Emiliano, the youngest of the trio, readily admits that crowds are either willing him to produce a dazzling win or suffer a humbling loss in an unforgiving sport.
"You see a lot of successful father-son teams," said Fernando Jr, who will seek further guidance ahead of an expected professional career. "Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Eubank from the UK.
"But I feel because we're so tight-knit and we're with each other every day, there is a ton more emotion.
"Ultimately he's our father, he wouldn't want to see nothing crazy happen to us, but this is the sport that brings us together."
Vargas was also brought together again with bitter rival De La Hoya, years on from a 2002 showdown that ended with Vargas enduring defeat following a thrilling firefight.
Scars of battle and the burning rage that preceded it have faded over time, but Vargas was coaxed into forgiveness after Emiliano, Amado and Fernando Jr forged an unlikely friendship with De La Hoya's son.
"That was crazy. You're friends with one of my enemy's sons," laughed Vargas.
"A nice kid, he was always respectful and I liked him, so it ended up being cool and then the next thing you know, I'm talking to his dad.
"Me and Oscar are friends now. We are absolutely at peace."
De La Hoya has recently hinted at a comeback, perhaps still longing for the hero worship he received while warring with rivals such as Vargas.
Fernando admits he is tempted too by another encounter with Oscar, albeit an exhibition-style bout like Mike Tyson's impending fight with Roy Jones Jnr.
"Well, I might come back too myself. Don't count it out."
Vargas, of course, still refuses to be counted out. But at the moment those ferocious fists are too busy offering calm instruction to his fighting sons.
You can listen to an extended interview with Fernando Vargas and his sons on this week's Toe 2 Toe podcast.