Antonio Vargas keeps proving the only loss of his pro career was more of a stumble. Now, he is marching down a path toward contender status.

Vargas battered Michell Banquez before ending matters Saturday night at the Casino Royale in Orlando, Florida, not far from his hometown of Kissimmee.

The 26-year-old improves to 16-1, 9 knockouts.

From the opening bell, Banquez was the aggressor, never stopping to come forward and sitting down on his punches as he closed the distance between the two fighters. By the second round, Vargas began timing Banquez, throwing and landing two or three-punch combinations to the head and body of Banquez. Vargas was effective at moving in and out of Banquez’ range and not allowing himself to get hit flush.

Entering the fifth round, Banquez began to receive more punishment and it looked like Banquez had broken his nose as he was bleeding profusely. Banquez’s right eye was almost shut in the sixth round from the amount of punches he was receiving from Vargas. A barrage of punches prompted referee Luis Pabon to step in and stop the fight at 2:38.

Vargas, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, has now won his last six fights since suffering a shocking first round knockout at the hands of Jose Cardenas in May 2019. He is currently promoted by Box-Lab after ending his relationship with Top Rank following the loss to Cardenas.

Banquez, who is originally from Caracas, Venezuela and now resides in Fort Lauderdale, falls to 20-3, 14 KOs. The 32-year-old has lost his last two bouts.

In the main event, junior welterweight Nestor Bravo of Puerto Rico and Jair Valtierra of Mexico fought to a No-Decision after Bravo (21-0 1 ND, 15 KOs) was cut from an accidental clash of heads that prevented the fight from continuing. It was a competitive fight between the two fighters until the fight was stopped at 1:50. 

Valtierra, a 21-year-old who resides in Leon, Mexico, goes to 16-2 1 ND, 8 KOs. He had previously fought on a handful of Boxeo Telemundo telecasts. 

Both fights took place on Saturday night, but aired on tape-delay on CBS Sports Network.

Also on the card promoted by Amaury Piedra, welterweight prospect Freudis Rojas, who now resides in Las Vegas, improved to 10-0, 10 KOs by stopping 45-year-old Gilbert Venegas of Davenport, Iowa at 2:11 of the opening round.

Lightweight Idalberto Umara stopped Deivi Julio (25-13, 15 KOs) of Monteria, Colombia at 1:40 of the second round. The 21-year-old Umara, who is originally from Holguin, Cuba and now resides in Miami, improves to 9-1, 6 KOs. He has not lost since a split-decision loss in his pro debut in March 2021.

Lightweight Otha Jones of Toledo, Ohio returned from an almost two-year hiatus to defeat Los Angeles’ Raymond Chacon by decision over six one-sided rounds. All three judges scored the bout 60-54 in favor of the 23-year-old Jones, who improves to 6-1-1, 2 KOs. 

Cruiserweights Adrian Pinheiro (10-0-1, 9 KOs), a 25-year-old who is originally from Poland and now resides in Orlando, and Isaiah Thompson (7-2-2, 6 KOs) of Plantation, Florida fought to a six-round draw. No scores were announced. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing