Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas 2016 Fight of the Year
Jan 07 2017 9:44 PM

Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas 2016 Fight of the Year – On June 4th of 2016, one day after Muhammad Ali passed away at age 74, WBC super featherweight title holder Francisco Vargas 23-0-1 (17) defended his belt against former featherweight and super featherweight titlist Orlando Salido 43-13-3 (30) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

In a fight that saw non-stop back and forth action, Vargas and Salido fought as if Ali was watching from above and they were trying to rekindle the memories of his third and final bout with “Smokin” Joe Frazier, “The Thrilla in Manila.” And when it was over, you were left asking yourself, “I don’t know how much either fighter was paid for the bout” – but it wasn’t nearly enough!

The fact that Salido was in another bout that was in consideration for the Fight of the Year shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed his stellar career. The 36-year-old Salido turned pro at 16, and in his 20 years as a pro, has never been part of a bad fight and has given boxing fans their money’s worth every time. In Francisco Vargas, Salido was confronted by a slightly bigger, younger and undefeated fighter who proved on this night his equal in will and skill.

Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas 2016 Fight of the Year

The fight started off in a civil manner with both fighters adopting their usual role pertaining to their fighting styles. Salido, as always, was inching his way forward trying to press the action and work on the inside, opposed to Vargas who was stepping away and off to one side looking for the counter while steadily keeping his left jab in front of Salido hoping to prevent him from getting inside and working him over to the body.

Well so much for that. By the end of a close first round, Vargas found that he could be effective taking it to Salido and didn’t have to give ground in order to nail him good. Conversely, Salido found that instead of standing his ground trying to beat Vargas down, he was equally effective fighting off the ropes countering him to the head and body with vicious hooks and right hands.

For the next 11 rounds Vargas and Salido went at each other as if the title on the line was secondary, fighting with the mindset that winning meant living and losing meant dying. For the duration of the bout the roles of each fighter reverted back and forth, sometimes Salido was back on the attack and Vargas was countering, then in the midst of a big exchange, Vargas was fighting as the aggressor and Salido was looking to counter off a miss.

In the sixth round, Vargas caught Salido with a right hook followed by a massive right uppercut that had Salido shook and on the defense. Orlando fought out of the brief fog to stabilize himself and had a big round in the eighth, with Vargas doing a lot less pitching and  more catching. They went toe-to-toe for the final four rounds, and every time it looked as if one of them was seizing the advantage, the other willed himself back to even up the round or possibly win it. Unbelievably, neither fighter ever went down or were close to going down during the bout.

After 12 of the most action packed rounds of 2016, it was left up to the ringside judges to decide who deserved the nod. And like most of those who watched the fight, they couldn’t. Both fighters felt that they edged the fight out but it was declared a draw with the final tabulation being 114-114 twice and 115-113 Vargas.

The Boxingchannel.com scored the bout 115-114 Salido.

Against competition provided by men from all over the world, it was Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, two fighters with Latin blood, who fought the 2016 Fight of the Year.

Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas 2016 Fight of the Year / written contribution from Frank Lotierzo of The Sweet Science.

Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas 2016 Fight of the Year