LOS ANGELES -WBC Super Featherweight World Champion Francisco "El Bandido" Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) retained his title against former three-time world champion Orlando "Siri" Salido (42-13-4, 30 KOs, 1 NC) after going the distance in a 12-round blood bath before a nearly sold-out, raucous crowd of 7,378 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. and televised live on HBO® Boxing After Dark. Photos by Sean Haffey and Chris Farina.
Salido and Vargas exchanged heavy blows in the first round, with Salido getting the better of Vargas in a flurry of punches late in the round. Round four saw Vargas injured, with blood pouring from a cut on his eye obtained by a head butt. The war continued on and brought the crowd to their feet in round six, where Vargas held Salido against the ropes several times with a flurry of punches. The warriors didn't stop and kept the pressure on each other until round 12, which saw Vargas and Salido laying into one another relentlessly until the bell.
"I feel really good about this decision," said Vargas. "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. 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. Overall, I'm happy I was able to face this skilled warrior."
"It was a complicated fight like I expected, a very difficult fight from beginning to end with a lot of action," said Salido. "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."
Before the man event began, attendees were encouraged to light up their cell phones across the audience and to chants from the crowd of "Ali." Ring announcer Michael Buffer told the assembled crowd the story of Ali and described his life as a boxer and activist, and his impact in the world beyond just sports. He followed with what has become standard for fallen boxers - ten bells rung to give the final count-out to the legend.
"We'll love you forever champ - rest in peace Muhammad Ali," said Buffer in closing the solemn occasion.