Fernando Vargas can forget about his belly.
"I'm a food connoisseur. I love to eat," he said with a smile.
Beginning this weekend, the 29-year-old Vargas can eat to his heart's content. He plans to retire from boxing after facing Ricardo Mayorga in a 12-round super middleweight bout Friday night at Staples Center.
"Believe me, it will be my last one. I'm looking forward to it," Vargas said earlier this week following a news conference that featured a lot of preening and screaming between the two fighters, who exchanged punches July 11 during their first news conference.
"This is a relief," Vargas said of his impending retirement. "I'd rather be promoting fighters. I wanted to retire by 30. I'm doing this two weeks before I turn 30."
When asked how he wanted to be remembered, Vargas replied: "A great champion that always went in there and gave it his all, who never left anything in the right. He wasn't going to give in, he wasn't going to give up - ever."
Vargas (26-4 with 22 knockouts) became the youngest junior middleweight world champion at just 21 years, five days when he dethroned Yory Boy Campas to win the IBF title in December 1998.
Vargas, from Oxnard, California, hasn't fought since July 15, 2006, when he was stopped for the second time in five months by Shane Mosley. His other losses were to Felix Trinidad in 2000 and Oscar De La Hoya in 2002.
"I've been working hard since January," Vargas said. "We had a postponement, but now we're back on track, feeling great."
Originally scheduled for Sept. 8, the bout was delayed after a routine blood test revealed Vargas had an iron deficiency.
"It's been a long wait, but I think it will be very well worth it," said Kathy Duva from Main Events, which is co-promoting the card with Don King Productions.
"This could be one of the best fights of recent memory," said Carl King, Mayorga's manager. "These are two true gladiators who love to fight. There's been nothing but fireworks from day one."
The 34-year-old Mayorga (27-6-1 with 22 knockouts), a three-time world champion from Managua, Nicaragua, hasn't fought since May 6, 2006, when he was stopped by De La Hoya. He won his first championship against then-WBA welterweight champion Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis in 2002.
Mayorga went on to beat Vernon Forrest twice in 2003 before losing to Cory Spinks and being stopped by Trinidad in 2004.
"Ricardo Mayorga fought his way out of the Nicaraguan barrio," King said. "He talks it as he walks it, I guess you might say."
Vargas isn't the first opponent Mayorga has infuriated, just the latest.
"Honestly, I'm going to knock him out," Mayorga said through a translator. "The main reason, I really don't like him. I put a million dollars on myself in Vegas to win, and not only to win, but to knock him out."
Mayorga said he doesn't believe the fight will go more than three rounds.
"I've been training very hard, especially for him, because I want to hit him as hard as I can hit him, more than any fighter I've fought," he said.
Vargas called Mayorga "a stupid street fighter."
"When I knock him down, I'm going to tell him to get up," Vargas said. "I'm going to tell him to get up and remember what he said."
The fight has been billed as "The Brawl."
Joe Percora, Vargas' business manager, said his client would earn $5 million to $8 million.
"It could be up to $15 million, it's hard to say," Percora added, explaining it depended on the number of pay-per-view subscribers.
"This is just an honor to be with him in his last fight," Percora said.
Alan Hopper, representing Don King Productions, said Mayorga will receive about 50 percent of what Vargas earns.
On the undercard, Roman Karmazin of St. Petersburg, Russia, who now lives in Los Angeles, faces Alejandro Garcia of Tijuana, Mexico, in a 12-round super welterweight bout, and Kermit Cintron meets Jesse Feliciano in a 12-round welterweight fight.
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