Looking Back and Looking Forward: From the StubHub Center to Madison Square Garden

Looking Back and Looking Forward – When Golden Boy Promotions announced that Francisco “Bandido” Vargas and Orlando “Siri” Salido were headlining a fight card at the StubHub Center no less, mouths began salivating across the Southwest and beyond.

Hardcore fight fans knew this equaled cataclysmic explosion on a nuclear level.

Regardless if you felt Vargas won or Salido won last Saturday, it was so far the Fight of the Year.

Back during the early part of the year a push to match Salido against Vargas was made by publicist Ricardo Jimenez and “Siri’s” advisor Sean Gibbons. They were polling different writers to ask what they thought of the matchup. Of course I thought it was a great idea. So did most of the other writers.

When Golden Boy matchmaker Roberto Diaz said they had made the deal, I and many others knew it could be the Fight of the Year.

So last Saturday, when these two Mexican warriors paired off in the first round, I kept my expectations on reserve. Sometimes you get a dud, but I just couldn’t foresee Vargas or Salido moving backward in a defensive affair. It’s not in their DNA.

The opening bell saw serious and violent exchanges not seen on this level on any other venue but the StubHub in the last several years. You have to go back to the late great Diego “Chico”Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo in 2005 in Las Vegas to see a fight like this outside of the StubHub. It was pure savagery.

With its arena dimensions and perfect sights all around, the StubHub Center produces great fights almost every time.

Each round seemed to get better and better between these two gladiators. The punches being delivered were on another level. They were tireless for the first six rounds. It took the breath away watching them exchange blows with such scientific devastation. It was like being in another world or another century; kind of like seeing two gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.

Salido in particular was no holds barred. I can’t count the number of times he hit Vargas with blows well beneath the belt. He must have caused a Charley Horse on Vargas from the number of times he hit his thighs. And Vargas never complained of the many low blows that were missed by referee Raul Caiz. Salido was clever in delivering the low blows where Caiz could not see them.

The only time Vargas complained was when Salido delivered his infamous head-right cross combination that opened up a deep cut on “Bandido.” That forced Vargas to complain and rightly so. It’s the same tactic Salido uses every fight. He did the same thing against Mikey Garcia when they fought with the same results. It’s a deadly tactic that Evander Holyfield used to implement too.

“I tried to stay calm and give him good shots again,” said Vargas after the fight about the head butts. “I just decided to go to war.”

Vargas seemed pleased with his choice of machismo over boxing technique.

So was Salido.

“I thought it was a great fight,” Salido said. “Two Mexican warriors going at it.”

When the fight ended a quick tally around press row resulted in a majority of the reporters calling it a draw. So did I.

Another candidate

Back in April, another classic confrontation took place on another Golden Boy Promotions fight card. Mexico’s Jesus Soto Karass tangled with Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai. As soon as matchmaker Diaz told me that fight was signed it had collision written all over it.

Soto Karass has been the king of the under-rated fighters for the past decade. Every time someone counts out the Mexican super welterweight he comes out of hiding like some boogey man and gives a shellacking.

Kamegai is the Japanese version of the boogey man. I think they see this rather mild looking Japanese warrior enter a ring and wonder what the fuss is all about. Then the fight begins and other fighters realize they don’t want any part of this man with an anvil for a chin. Plus, he never tires.

The Belasco Theater was filled with expectations and when the bell rang these two fighters crashed into each other like those killing machines they show on television. There was no remorse or stopping these two guys. After 10 rounds of pure violence the fans had to get their breath.

A quick tally in press row resulted in shrugs. Nobody could point a clear cut winner. Neither could the judges. It was ruled a draw. Now we hear that a rematch is under discussion. That means it’s too early to decide the Fight of the Year.

Upcoming in SoCal

Bash Boxing has a fight card worth seeing in the city of El Monte on Saturday.

This fight card will be at the Los Angeles Badminton Club on 10410 Valley Blvd. in El Montes and is filled with two former world title challengers in Denis Shafikov and Rico Ramos and a couple of prospects of note in Joel Diaz Jr. and Virgilijus Stapulionis.

Shafikov (36-2-1, 19 KOs) a Russian southpaw meets Samuel Amoako (21-11) in a lightweight bout. His last bout was a title challenge against Rances Barthelemy that he lost by decision. Two years ago he lost to Miguel Vazquez by decision. This could be his last chance to reboot and chase a world title.

Ramos, 28, at least won a world title in the past. The quick-fisted speedster from Los Angeles has reportedly gone back to his old trainer looking to reload. Talented and experienced, Ramos (24-5, 12 KOs) seeks a return to the title scene and it starts on Saturday when he meets Justin Savi (28-5-2, 18 KOs).

One of the prospects to watch on the fight card is the power-punching Diaz. He’s not in there to win by decision; he’s in there to put a hurt on someone. Diaz (21-0, 17 KOs) faces Joaquim Carneiro (23-8, 21 KOs) of Brazil. Diaz is worth watching.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Call (626) 388-8888 for more information.

Top Rank at Madison Square Garden

Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) is the gate attraction for the Top Rank card. The undefeated lightweight sensation faces Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs) of Mexico City. But the main event will be Roman Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) defending the WBO super featherweight world title against WBO featherweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) moving up a weight division for the challenge. HBO will televise.

“I didn’t have a big problem with 126 pounds. Of course it wasn’t easy but it wasn’t a critical condition. 130 is more natural weight for me,” said Lomachenko. “Also, I was tired of waiting to find opposition. Moving to 130 will give me more ability to fight other champions.”

Martinez is one of the luckiest boxers I’ve seen in years. Decisions always seem to go his way but Lomachenko provides an entirely different breed of fighter. The Ukrainian’s speed and agility will give Martinez multiple problems.

Top Rank also added China’s Zou Shiming (7-1, 2 KOs) to the fight card. He faces Hungary’s Jozsef Ajtai (15-2) a big puncher in a flyweight bout. The Las Vegas-based promotion company is not doing the former Chinese Olympian any favors. He’s in tough against the Hungarian.

Looking Back and Looking Forward


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