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Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido battle to a draw in slugfest

Orlando Salido throws a right at Francisco Vargas, left, during their WBC super-featherweight championship bout at StubHub Center on June 4.
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido kept throwing punches in the cool night air . . . and kept throwing . . . and kept throwing.

They were attacking with such frenzy that it seemed plausible that the World Boxing Council super-featherweight title fight at StubHub Center would be continued in the parking lot until one of the Mexican warriors dropped.

That seemed to be the only fair resolution after the two fought to a draw Saturday night in an electric bout that certainly will make a case for fight of the year. Vargas retained his title in his first defense after he went toe-to-toe with Salido in a bout that lived up to its hype and respected the memory of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

“I feel really good about this decision,” Vargas said. “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.”

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Judges scored the fight 115-113 for Vargas, 114-114 and 114-114. It might have been closer than that before a late flurry by Salido, who opened a cut on Vargas in the late stages.

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“It was a complicated fight like I expected, a very difficult fight from beginning to end with a lot of action,” Salido said. “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 [Vasyl] Lomamcheko. I’ll fight anyone.”

It was the first fight for Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) since his impressive comeback against Japan’s Miura for the junior-lightweight world title in November.

It was a disappointing decision for Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs), who is celebrating 20 years in boxing. He had fought two classic junior-lightweight title bouts with Roman Martinez last year, one of which overshadowed the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto main event.

Salido landed 34.9% of his punches to 32.6% for Vargas, according to fight statistics. Vargas landed 21.3% of jabs to 9.8% for Salido. The two were essentially even on power punches.

“I used powerful jabs and countered with ruthlessness,” Vargas said. “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.”

There was pre-fight 10-bell tribute performed for Ali, who died Friday, as spectators held up cellphones to light up the stadium.

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Then intense action ensued. The frenzied 10th round was the highlight of the fight. Vargas was on the attack and Salido slipped to the canvas before the two resumed their epic exchange.

On the undercard, Abraham Lopez of La Puente won a unanimous decision against Julian Ramirez of Los Angeles in a matchup of two local undefeated featherweights boxing on HBO for the first time.

Lopez (21-0-1, 15 KOs) accidentally cut Ramirez above the right eye on a head butt in the sixth and Ramirez (16-1, 8 KOs) was bloodied the rest of the way.

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The win, which the judges scored 98-92, 97-93, is expected to put Lopez closer to the world title picture.

Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @CurtisZupke


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