TORONTO — With 35 fights under his belt, NABA welterweight champion Samuel Vargas thought he had pretty much seen it all. Then came Gabriel Adrian Pereiro.
The 40-year-old Argentine clowned, clutched and chomped in the main event of the "Risky Business" boxing card at Coca-Cola Coliseum on Saturday night.
Vargas survived to win a lopsided decision (100-87, 99-88 and 99-88). And the fighters made nice in the ring after the final bell with Pereiro lifting Vargas in the air. Back in the dressing room area afterwards, they hugged it out.
But Vargas (30-4-2) was still shaking his head as he stripped off his gear and prepared to deposit his battered right hand in a giant can of ice.
"I don't know, man. I've experienced everything in the boxing ring. I've been kicked, I've been slammed," said the 29-year-old Colombian-born fighter who now calls Toronto home. "Today, he bit me on the elbow once. But I thought it was my mind. I'm like 'Nah, it didn't happen.' Then he bit me in the neck real hard, there's marks there. They had to disinfect it.
"And then after the fight he goes 'Yeah, sorry I bit you.' I'm like 'Why did you do that? This is boxing, bro.'"
Boxers wear mouthpieces. But an ugly red semi-circular welt was plain to see on Vargas' neck.
Pereiro was warned early in the second for illegal blows to the back of the head. He had a point deducted for holding in both the seventh and ninth rounds.
Both men complained of low blows during the bout.
Pereiro delivered a flurry of punches in the first round, promoting Vargas to shake his head dismissively. The Argentine stuck out his tongue and clowned as Vargas complained about illegal head shots.
Vargas floored Pereiro with a right hand in the second round. The Argentine rallied in the third, catching Vargas at the ropes but the local fighter weathered the storm and came back strongly.
A string of body shots late in the sixth took a toll on Pereiro, who was holding on in the later rounds. But Vargas said that his attempts to finish him were hindered by the fact that his right hand hurt too much to use as the fight wound down.
According to BoxRec, it was only Pereiro's second fight outside of Argentina. His last outing was in Bolivia.
"A tough, weird guy," Vargas said of his opponent.
"He tried to survive," he added. "He just pretty much said 'This is my last fight and I really wanted to win.' That's what he just told me."
Some might have shunned an opponent like Pereiro after the fight. Vargas was classy — if a little stunned by what had just happened — in victory.
"I don't let things like that get to me. At the end of the day I have my family, I have my son Sammy, I have people I love right beside me. I'm happy."
The co-main event was equally memorable with veteran Swedish heavyweight Aldo Colliander proving to be a larger-than-life late-replacement opponent for Kristian Prenga of Niagara Falls, Ont.
A frustrated Prenga eventually stopped Colliander in the sixth round.
The 40-year-old Sengalese-born Colliander raps as well as fights and was styling on a microphone en route to the ring.
At six foot five and 267 pounds, the chunky Colliander (15-3-0) was a load. He was wearing black PVC-like shirts that might have doubled as a sail for a good-size boat and his protective kidney belt floated above the waist, exposing ads for his Black Clan Records YouTube channel (159 subscribers).
But the veteran Swede was enough of a threat to keep the chiselled Prenga (9-1-0) from rushing in. And when Prenga threatened, Colliander attached himself to the Canadian like a refrigerator-sized limpet.
A frustrated Prenga, who was cut high on the head in the fourth round, finally connected in the sixth. Colliander went down and he and his corner decided they had had enough, prompting a stoppage at 2:16.
Earlier on the card, Pan Am Games boxing champion Arthur (The Chechen Wolf) Biyarslanov won his pro debut in short order, stopping Mexican welterweight Ernesto Cardona Sanchez at 2:34 of the first round.
NABA and NABO middleweight champion Patrice Volny of Montreal won a majority 10-round decision (95-95, 97-93, 98-92) over Ryan Young of Oakville, Ont. Young (12-4-0) kept coming forward but Volny (13-0-0) had good defence and a deeper arsenal.
Toronto middleweight Steve Rolls (19-0-0) won a unanimous 10-round decision over American KeAndrae Leatherwood (21-6-1) to claim the vacant USBA title.
Veteran Montreal welterweight Dierry (All In) Jean (31-2-1) stopped Mexican Noe Nunez (18-7-2) at 2:33 of the first round.
Returning to the ring after an 11-year absence, hard-hitting Halifax middleweight Moncef (Buddy) Askri won by TKO over Mexico's Jesus Javier Mendoza at 1:40 of the first round. The 37-year-old Askri improved to 11-0-0 while Mendoza slipped to 7-7-1.
The card was put on by Lee Baxter Promotions, in association with Athlete Development and Management.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press