How does Vargas-Salido compare to other StubHub Center classics?
By Hector Franco
CARSON, CALIF. – Last night at the StubHub Center two fighters stepped into the ring and exceeded all expectations. Reigning WBC 130-pound champion Francisco Vargas will have now participated in his second straight fight of the year. Last year it was against Takashi Miura. For his opponent Orlando Salido, it was another great fight to add to his list of classics. Going into the fight Vargas was a 3-to-1 favorite to defeat Salido. It was unclear how much Salido had left due to the length and punishment sustained throughout his career. He showed against Vargas that he had enough left to compete with anyone at 130-pounds.
The bout itself was a back and forth affair that had ebbs and flows. Either man could have been declared the winner by 7-5 going either way. The decision being a draw was poetic justice for what occurred inside the ring. Neither man was a loser on this night. Without question, it was a fight that lived up to the great fights between Mexican fighters like Barrera-Morales. The bout will also be a part of the long list of great fights to take place at the StubHub Center.
Fans may remember when the StubHub Center was called the Home Depot Center. Before the hand wrap controversy that took place in 2009, Antonio Margarito defended his WBO welterweight title against Paul Williams in July of 2007. The first half of the bout was all Williams as he was able to out work Margarito with his length, size, and volume punching. It wasn’t until the seventh round that Margarito’s pressure finally got to Williams. Margarito began pushing the pace and backing Williams up. Williams’ rebounded with a great 12th round that ultimately won him the fight. This was the first great fight that took place at the arena in Carson, California. It certainly wasn’t the last.
In 2012 and 2013 fans were treated to more great fights at the StubHub Center. Starting in October 2012, Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado participated in the first match up of what would become a trilogy. Rios-Alvarado was a fight that lived up to the hype behind it. If not for the fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight and the rematch between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez this would have won Fight of the year honors. In 2013, Timothy Bradley made his comeback after the first Manny Pacquiao fight against Ruslan Provodnikov. After the fight, Bradley would call the StubHub Center the “war grounds”. It could be said that Bradley survived the fight with Provodnikov. It was the best fight of 2013 and won fight of the year honors. Bradley regained much of the respect he lost against Pacquiao after the Provodnikov fight.
The fight that not only stands in the annals of great Mexico vs. Mexico fights and is regarded as the best fight to have taken place at the StubHub Center is the third bout between Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez. It took place in March of 2008. It was in the same month where other great bouts took place like Pacquiao-Marquez II and Joel Casamayor-Michael Katsidis. It is one of the top five fights to have taken place since the year 2000. Without question, it is the bar for great fights to have taken place at the StubHub Center. Vargas-Salido fell short to only this fight.
Unless something surpasses it, Vargas-Salido will win the fight of the year award for 2016. For Salido, it means much more than that. Last night Salido showed that all of his losses on his record (43-13-4) don’t define him. His bouts with Mikey Garcia, Terdsak Kokietgym, and Weng Haya showed signs of a fighter at the end of his career. Against Vargas, he showed his career isn't over. Whether it is a rubber match with Roman Martinez, a rematch with Vasyl Lomachenko or Francisco Vargas, Orlando Salido has shown that he should never be counted out. He has underrated technique and a mentality that never waivers in the ring. Francisco Vargas is cut from the same cloth. Both men deserve a standing ovation from boxing fans around the world for what they gave us last night.
(Featured Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)