LAS VEGAS – Josue Vargas fended off Kendo Castaneda on Saturday night and convincingly produced perhaps the most noteworthy win of his five-year pro career.
The Bronx-based southpaw dropped Castaneda early in the second round and out-worked him for most of their 10-round welterweight bout at MGM Grand Conference Center. Judges Max De Luca (98-91), Lisa Giampa (100-89) and Steve Weisfeld (99-90) rewarded Vargas (18-1, 9 KOs) for his activity and accuracy on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez undercard.
The 22-year-old Vargas’ unanimous-decision victory extended his winning streak to 12 since he lost to Samuel Santana by third-round disqualification in October 2016. San Antonio’s Castaneda (17-3, 8 KOs, 1 NC) has lost three straight fights, all 10-round decision defeats since February 28.
Castaneda continued coming forward during the final two rounds, but Vargas threw combinations up top, landed to his body and built on an already large lead.
Vargas blasted Castaneda with a right hook 1:10 into the eighth round. With just under a minute to go in the eighth, Vargas landed another right hook.
Vargas backed Castaneda into the ropes just before the eighth round ended and unloaded a combination of punches to his head and body.
Vargas worked well off his jab for much of the seventh round. He nailed Castaneda with a right hook up top and then a right to the body in the final 30 seconds of that round.
Castaneda buzzed Vargas with a right hand about 25 seconds into the sixth round. Vargas held to recover from that shot, which prevented Castaneda from capitalizing on it.
A left-right combination by Vargas stopped Castaneda in his tracks with about a minute remaining in the fifth round. Vargas caught Castaneda with a hard jab with 15 seconds to go in the fifth.
A right by Castaneda caught Vargas while he was in an awkward position and caused him to hold just after the midway mark of the fourth round. Vargas landed a left-right combination to Castaneda’s body late in the fourth and added another right to the body just before the bell sounded to end the round.
Vargas’ right hook connected with about 20 seconds to go in the third round, but Castaneda came back with a right hand of his own a couple seconds later.
A straight left by Vargas sent Castaneda to the seat of his trunks 33 seconds into the second round. Castaneda got right to his feet and didn’t seem hurt over the final two-plus minutes of that round.
Vargas landed a hard left below Castaneda’s belt late in the second round. That drew a warning from Weeks.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.