Salido and Vargas Fight Their Hearts Out For Majority Draw; Lopez Hands Ramirez First Loss

Barbara Pinnella

Barbara lives in USA and tries to cover as many fights as she can – which is never enough! She has been writing about boxing since the first series of The Contender, where she interviewed the loser of each match each week, and then the winner of the final bout and has been covering boxing ever since.

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The StubHub! in Carson, California played host to the Golden Boy Promotion fight card this Saturday night. There had been a heat wave in the Los Angeles area, and at least in Carson it was quite a bit cooler, making for an even more enjoyable evening. Nine fighters would walk into the ring unbeaten, so it would prove interesting to see if their streaks continued.

The main event promised to be one hell of a fight between the undefeated Francisco “El Bandito” Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) and the always ready Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs). This fight was for the WBC World super featherweight title, and was scheduled for 12 rounds.

The first round started off just the way a fight for the belt should. Both men connected with really hard shots and each rocked the other. The fans were already on their feet during this opening round. The second was the same. First Vargas would dominate, and then it would be Salido. And even though it was back-and-forth action, there was never a lull.

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In the third, the men were hitting each other as if they were heavyweights. It was kind of a surprise that neither man had been down yet, what with the leather they were throwing. In the fourth round they squared off like two rams; head to head and just pounding each other. One would have thought they were two young guns each trying to make a name for themselves. This was a great fight thus far.

In the fifth, the fighters were throwing and landing jabs, hooks, body shots – whatever they threw, most were landing on their opponent. Moving into the sixth, one had to wonder just how good their conditioning was, since there had still been no slowing down in the fight. Vargas pinned Salido in the corner in the sixth round and just pummeled him. When Orlando rolled out of there, Francisco followed him on the ropes and landed more shots. But Salido found his way back to the center of the ring and landed some punches of his own.

The seventh round saw Salido come back and go on the attack once again. Just how much could these fighters exchange? A lot, and we were able to witness it. Orlando got Francisco in the corner this time, and really took it to him. These men were giving their all, and everyone was enjoying the boxing lesson they were giving.

The eighth and ninth were more of the same, intense action. Salido went down in the tenth, but it was due to a slip. Still, the crowd yelled. Vargas had about 45 seconds where he was landing everything on Orlando and for an instant it looked as if the fight would be stopped, but then he tried to fight his way out of it and lasted out the end of the round.

Orlando came out hot again in the eleventh, then Vargas came on, then Salido again. This is the way it had been and would apparently continue until the end. We went into the twelfth and final round. I mentioned conditioning earlier; well, no worries. Vargas and Salido came out and fought the entire twelfth round as if it were the first. There was no quit in either fighter. We went to the scorecards.

The judges had the fight 115-113 and 114-114 twice, making the fight a split draw. It would have been too bad that one fighter would have to lose this, but as hard as they fought a draw was probably a bitter pill to swallow as well. Still, this was a super, super fight. Fight of the year? Maybe!

After the fight Vargas said, “I feel really good about this decision. I knew coming in that I was going to be facing a very tough opponent; however I didn’t expect for him to head butt me and give me so many cuts to the face. Overall, I’m happy I was able to face this skilled warrior.

“I used powerful jabs and countered with ruthlessness. Takashi Miura was a much more powerful puncher, but my respects to Salido. He is a very tough fighter and has a very strong chin.”

Salido said, “It was a complicated fight like I expected, a very difficult fight from beginning to end with a lot of action. It was a great spectacle for all the fans. They got what they wanted; they wanted to see blood and they saw blood. I would welcome another fight with him. I believe that I won by a slight margin, but I would welcome a rematch. I would also accept the fight from Takashi Miura or from Lomachenko. I’ll fight anyone.”

I must add here that Vargas received between 15 and 20 stitches over each eye after his war with Salido.

Vargas vs Salido

Two undefeated fighters squared off in the co-main event, as featherweights Julian “El Camaron” Ramirez (16-1, 8 KOs) faced Abraham Lopez (21-0-1, 15 KOs). This fight was scheduled to go 10 rounds. As the saying goes, “Somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go.”

There was no feeling out period for these two, as they both came out strong. In the final several seconds of the round, Julian landed some really hard punches, making a statement. The fighters came out like gangbusters in the second, with both of them landing. But Ramirez was particularly sharp.

In the third they came out fast yet again. Lopez was definitely trying to fight back, but you could see the sophistication of Ramirez shine through. Nothing changed at all in the fourth. Abe might have slowed down just a tad in this round, but not enough to be caught doing nothing.

Ramirez looked as fresh in the fifth as he did in the opener. He was still dancing on his toes and throwing a lot of punches – and connecting with them. Lopez was answering back as well. This was a great fight. The sixth was probably the most uneventful of all rounds thus far. That is not to say there wasn’t action, but they had spoiled us with all of the activity they put out previously.

The seventh round was a good one for Lopez. He fired on both cylinders, hitting Julian with both hands. Ramirez fought back, but a very strong round for Abe. The eighth was another solid round for Lopez. Julian was a bit stronger than in the previous round, and this fight was very close. Ninth round and the fight was still close. Ramirez landed a really good left hand that snapped Lopez’ head back, but Abe came right back into the fray.

In the tenth the fight still seemed close, and we went to the scorecards. Two of the judges saw it 97-93 twice, while the third one had it 98-92, all for Lopez. I must say, that up in the box with some other photographers and journalists, we were surprised at that decision.

Regarding his win, Lopez said, “It was a close fight, my respects for Julian he definitely is a hard puncher. I’m not hurt, I was able to counter the punches he came at me with. This victory opens doors for me; it moves me up to the next level in my career and gives me the opportunities to fight for a world title. I’m glad I listen to my corner, that’s what ultimately helped get the victory tonight.”

After suffering his first defeat, Julian said, “This was a really tough fight. I knew he would be a tough opponent, and that’s what I trained hard for. I know that he won some rounds, but I thought that I did very well out there. And I thought that I had a very good shot at winning this. I feel that the decision should have been much closer. But it is what it is, and that’s boxing.”

The always tough Gabriel Rosado (22-10, 13 KOs) took on Antonio Gutierrez (21-1-1, 9 KOs). This fight was for a scheduled 10 rounds, and was in the middleweight division. The men came out swinging, already indicating that we were in for a slugfest. Both connected with some punches in the first three minutes.

Gabe landed some heavy leather on Antonio in the second round, displaying power in both hands. Gutierrez continued to fight back, making this a fun fight early on. Rosado continued to land with power punches in the third, but Antonio was fighting back. In the fourth, a right hand by Gutierrez put Rosado on the canvas. But the last 30 seconds, Gabe just smothered his opponent.

The action never stopped in the fifth, with the men fighting in close the entire time. Both were landing big shots and appeared to be trying to end the fight. That didn’t happen and we moved into the sixth. The war raged on, with neither fighter appearing to be tired. They were still throwing and landing a lot of punches.

The knockdown that Antonio gave to Gabe in the fourth round looked to have given Gutierrez confidence that was building each round. But in the seventh, Rosado really landed some hard shots in the last minute of the round. The eighth saw Antonio gaining control back again, as he was able to move Gabe around the ring as he had in several of the previous rounds.

In the ninth it was the same as the prior round. Rosado was game to be sure, but he didn’t seem to be able to penetrate the defense that Antonio put up, and Gabe was not able to land very many shots. Gutierrez was still landing. In the tenth and final we saw a little bit of holding, but they were both still trying to throw leather. We went to the scorecards. The judges scored the fight 95-94 twice, while the third judge saw it 96-93, all for Rosado.

After the fight, Rosado was not completely satisfied with his performance.

“I was hoping this fight would go a little differently,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to get knocked down. I know that I was making some mistakes in my rounds, and he was coming at me really hard. I know that I have a lot of support out here. This was a learning experience for me — despite my flaws, I was able to get back up and take this victory.”

And not surprisingly, Gutierrez was not pleased either, but with the decision, not his efforts.

“I had studied Rosado before this fight, and knew he was a fighter with great ability and punching power,” Antonio said. “This has been the most difficult fight of my career thus far, but I feel that I was very impressive and dominated many of the rounds tonight. When I dropped him in the fourth round, I was surprised because I was just doing what my corner advised. And it worked. I don’t agree with the decision. I feel I gave the better fight tonight, and the crowd agrees with me.”

Lightweights took to the ring next in a fight scheduled to go eight rounds, as Christian Gonzalez (14-0, 12 KOs) faced off against Jhon Gemino (12-7-1, 5 KOs). This fight was for the vacant WBC Youth World lightweight title. Both men came out swinging in the opening round and gave fans a lot of action, although there was no real harm done to either man. Gonzalez was able to get Gemino on the ropes a few times in the second round, which allowed him to throw and connect with his combinations.

Both men had good moments in the third, but the strong left hand of Christian was really working for him. Jhon really did try to turn it on as well in a pretty competitive round. The fourth was a lot of the same by both fighters. So were the fifth and sixth. Gemino would get caught on the ropes and eat combinations, but to his credit he would always fight his way off of them. Still, his one punch was no match for the number of punches that Gonzalez continued to throw.

I would like to change this trend, but the seventh and eighth rounds were the same. Christian was dominating the entire fight. We went to the scorecards. Two judges saw the fight 80-72, 80-72, while the third had it 79-71, all for Gonzalez. Christian remained undefeated.

Gonzalez said, “My opponent was really tough and was able to take lots of punches which was challenging. Every fight is a learning experience for me, and I am extremely happy I was able to get tonight’s victory against this tough guy because this is what I came to accomplish.”

Nicolas Arce (8-0, 6 KOs) went up against Francisco Dominguez (7-8, 2 KOs) in a fight scheduled to go six rounds. the first round was not a very active one, but it was Arce, much to the delight of his many yellow-clad fans, who controlled the action. Nick really went on the attack in the second round, almost landing his punches on Dominguez at will. Strong round for Arce.

The third round was another strong one for Arce. He kept up the intensity he found in the second. Two more rounds in the bag and still Nick is the dominate fighter. We moved into the sixth and final round. Francisco got in some of his best punches in this round, but they did nothing to deter Arce. We went to the scorecards. All of the judges saw the fight the same, 60-54, all for the very active Arce.

Nick had this to say about his fight. “I’m very happy I got the victory. I trained for everything to go as planned, as it did. My opponent is a tough guy who can take lots of punches and I feel good about this fight. This is what I came out here to do.”

In a super lightweight bout that was scheduled to go six rounds, Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro (6-0, 5 KOs) faced off against Marc Torres (4-2, 1 KO). A barrage of punches from Navarro put Torres on the canvas in the first, but he got up and weathered the storm. Torres went down again in the second by an uppercut and the fight was waved off at 1:21 of that second round.

“I could tell in the first round that his body was open,” Jonathan said. “When I got him down in the first, I knew then, for me, that this fight was all about body shots. I could see he was wobbling in the second round. And that’s when I was able to take him down with a body shot. Like I said at the weigh-in, anybody can talk — but we will see if they can back it up. I was able to back it up.”

Welterweights were next, as Alexis Rocha (3-0, 2 KOs) faced off against Anthony Woods (0-5). This fight was scheduled to go four rounds. The first round was all Rocha, as he was by far the most effective fighter. The next two rounds were a little on the slow side, but Rocha still was showing the most skill.

We went into the fourth and final round and this one was a little more active. Still, Alexis was the better fighter. We went to the scorecards and all three judges saw the fight the same, 40-36 all for Rocha. This is a young fighter to keep an eye on, and his brother is Ronny Rios, so he has boxing in his blood.

“I come out to win and I was expecting to knock my opponent out, but he was giving me a ton of trouble in the ring,” Rocha said. “If I ever lose a fight, my opponent is going to have to knock me out to take me down. Every fight for me is a learning experience, and I know now what I’m going to have to do to improve – including working on my combinations and staying collected during the fight.”

Lightweights Genaro Gamez (2-0, 2 KOs) faced off again Juan Bryand (1-4,). This fight was scheduled for four rounds, but it did not need that long. A left hook to the body by Gamez put Bryand down, and after an attempt to stand, he was considered out at 1:36 of that very first round.

“It feels really great to be out here and to put on a show for my fans,” said Genaro Gamez. “I went in ready, training very hard and ready to get the job done. This is my first fight at the StubHub Center and my second professional fight, and everyone can expect a lot more to come from me.”

To start us off this afternoon we saw Oscar Duarte (5-0-1, 2 KOs) battle with Luis Ruiz Lizarraga, Jr. (5-9-1, 2 KOs) in a fight scheduled for four rounds in the lightweight division. We saw an action-packed first round to start us off, with Duarte getting in some really good head shots and a couple of hard body punches as well.

The next three rounds were more of the same, with Oscar staying in complete control. In the fourth and final round a few seconds from the bell, Duarte just pounded Lizarraga and put him on the canvas. Still, we went to the scorecards. All of the judges saw the fight the same, 40-35 for Duarte.

After the fight, Oscar said, “So this is my second time fighting in a venue this size. This motivates me to keep going and to give me momentum. I’m very happy with this victory, and I know it’s because of me that my team’s able to work hard and develop a tactic to attack.”

In all, a really great night in Carson. We saw what could very well be the fight of the year in Vargas / Salido, and the Lopez / Ramirez fight gave the fans a lot of action as well. Of the nine fights on the card, seven went the distance. Fighters always seem to come through with strong fights at StubHub!, and tonight was no exception! Most of the men who walked into the ring undefeated remained that way.

The attendance for these Golden Boy fights on this night was 7,378. That set a record for Golden Boy at the StubHub!, and they have been having fights there for 10 years, so that just added to their successful night.

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