Boxer-In-Law Vargas and His Unique Training Situation

Boxing Scene

Antonio Vargas is trained by his father-in-law Doel Montes.

Last weekend, Vargas stopped Jonathan Rodriguez in the seventh round to become the No. 1 contender for the WBA bantamweight title. That title was successfully defended by Takuma Inoue, the brother of Naoya Inoue, when Inoue stopped former champion Jerwin Ancajas, also last weekend in Japan.

Perhaps more interesting than even Vargas’ breakout performance is his training situation. Vargas (18-1, 10 KOs), a 2016 Olympian, is married to his coach’s daughter, née Melody Montes, with whom he has two children. His wife was a boxer, too, but she hung up her gloves after the couple’s kids arrived.

“It wasn’t weird at all,” Vargas, 27, said of his unique work-life balance. “I was born in Houston, Texas, I came to Florida when I was 12, and I sparred his daughter – who is my wife now – when I was 13.

“They were always around the same area, Kissimmee. We went to the same tournaments, and he saw me grow up as a young man.”

Vargas’ wife, now Melody Vargas, authored an outstanding amateur career in her own right. Antonio outlined his path to training with the man who would become his father-in-law.

“When I came back from the Pan-American Games, the coach that I had, we stopped training together,” Vargas said. “I knew about [Doel], and asked him if he could train me. That was in 2015.”

For many, working with a father-in-law might have been awkward. Yet for Vargas, fighting is a family tradition. 

“It has never been awkward, because even as a father-in-law he treats me like a son,” Vargas said.

“I see him every day, he lives just down the street from me. We are a happy family, we are united, we are strong, and actually I prefer it that way. You are not going to have [anyone] like family that is going to have your best interests. The fact that I am married to his daughter, he wants what is best for his daughter. That guy has been a blessing in my life.”

Vargas was knocked down in the first round of his WBA bantamweight eliminator but responded by flooring Rodriguez in the second round. He also lost two points for hitting Rodriguez while he was down. Yet Vargas steadied the ship and won in the seventh.

It could be experience or it could be the bond he has built with his corner in and out of the ring – or maybe a little of both.

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