By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Vasyl Lomachenko had a ringside seat for the presumptive frontrunner for “Fight of the Year.”
Lomachenko left StubHub Center on Saturday night beyond impressed with the sustained violence Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido produced during their 12-round slugfest. The Ukrainian southpaw does think, however, that Salido should’ve been declared the winner of a thoroughly entertaining junior lightweight championship bout that was scored a majority draw (115-113 for Vargas, 114-114, 114-114).
“I saw it from the very first round, and I couldn’t understand how people can throw that many punches,” Lomachenko said through a translator before a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “And they beat a [CompuBox] record for throwing punches in 12 rounds. But in my opinion, Salido won by one round.”
Of the 714 total punches CompuBox credited Salido and Vargas with landing, an astounding 615 were power shots. They also combined to throw 1,593 power punches, a CompuBox-record for junior lightweights.
Puerto Rico’s Rocky Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs), who’ll defend his WBO world super featherweight title against Lomachenko (5-1, 3 KOs) on Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden, disagreed with Lomachenko’s score, yet was equally impressed with how the Mexican brawlers battled.
“I think it was really a draw,” said Martinez, who watched the Vargas-Salido fight on television. “It was a war, definitely. Both fighters fought an incredible fight, and both are warriors. That was an incredible action fight. But to me, the decision was OK.”
The 12-round Martinez-Lomachenko championship bout will headline HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader Saturday night. In the opener of the telecast (10 p.m. ET/PT), Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) is scheduled to meet Mexico’s Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs) in a 10-rounder.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.