Francisco Vargas survived the 2015 fight of the year in November to claim a world championship, and the Mexican super-featherweight's first title defense has all the makings of another thrilling challenge.
Representatives negotiating the deal told The Times on Friday night they are “99% done” in their talks to finalize a bout for Vargas against rugged Mexican Orlando Salido. The fight would be on June 4 at StubHub Center in Carson.
Knowing the venue has been home to some memorable brawls, including two chapters of the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez saga and the 2014 fight of the year between Lucas Matthysse and John Molina, Vargas' promoter Oscar De La Hoya said, “This is what StubHub was made for.”
HBO is scheduled to televise the bout, which was awaiting an expected verbal approval from Vargas on Friday night.
Eric Gomez of De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Salido's manager Sean Gibbons met Friday night at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles to strike a verbal agreement on terms, and Gibbons said Salido has already approved the parameters.
Vargas, 31, is 23-0-1 with 17 knockouts. He won the World Boxing Assn. super-featherweight belt by ninth-round technical knockout over Japan’s Takashi Miura on Nov. 21 in a thrilling battle at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
After hurting Miura in the first round, Vargas was knocked down in the fourth. Swelling and a cut under Vargas' right eye worsened by the end of the eighth round, when Miura battered him in a corner.
“The only thing that was going through my mind was, ‘I’ve got to win. I want to be champion,’" Vargas told The Times days after the bout.
Vargas knocked down Miura with a flurry of punches in the ninth round. Miura tried to hang on to Vargas for dear life, but then found himself exposed to another onslaught of blows, prompting referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight.
In the 35-year-old Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs), Vargas will meet a former featherweight world champion who was overweight before beating current featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko in 2015 and staged his own fight-of-the-year-worthy battles with Roman Martinez last year.
Their September draw was seen by some in the audience as a Salido victory.