WBC Jr. Featherweight champion Rey Vargas (33-0, 22 KOs) showed some rust tonight as he was returning from a nine month layoff to recover from a knuckle injury.
His return was almost spoiled by Franklin Manzanilla (18-5) who gave a tougher then expected fight.
Vargas spent the early rounds trying to get comfortable and find a consistent rhythm. Manzanilla wouldn’t allow him to find his comfort zone as he scored a knockdown of the champion in the second round.
Vargas did not seem to be truly hurt by the punch. The champion managed to beat the count and continue to fight on without showing any ill effects of the knockdown.
Round 4 is when Vargas began to look like his old self. He landed several combinations and seemed to have Manzanilla momentarily hurt. Although Vargas could not score the stoppage or get the knockdown, he landed big shots. The knuckle injury that plagued him in 2018 did not seem to effect him in this fight.
As the fight went on things began to get ugly in a hurry. Manzanilla was deducted a point in the seventh round for hitting Vargas behind the head.
He then lost another point in the eighth round. This time for landing a punch at the break. Vargas was then cut along his right eye as a result of a headbutt as Manzanilla came rushing in.
It was a rough-and-tough fight for Vargas, but in the end he managed to score the unanimous-decision victory as all three judges scored the contest 117-108 all in favor of the champion as he defended his title for the fourth time.