By Dan Ambrose: Last Saturday night’s exciting match between WBC super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) and former two division world champion Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs) averaged an impressive 833,000 viewers with a peak of 954,000 viewers on HBO’s Boxing After Dark, according to Dan Rafael.
The judges scored the fight a 12 round draw by scoring it 115-113 for Vargas, 114-114, and 114-114. It was hard not to see Salido as the better fighter, as he was landing the harder shots and pushing the fight for the entire 12 rounds.
Vargas tried to fight on the outside as much as possible, but Salido wouldn’t let him. Salido kept pressuring Vargas and forcing him to fight on the inside whether he wanted to or not. This was a very exciting fight and it could very well wind up as 2016 Fight of the Year. Right now, Vargas-Salido is the best fight of this year in my mind. There isn’t anything better than it thus far.
Salido could wind up facing Vargas in a rematch in their next fights. I don’t know if it matters. If the fights are going to be scored like the one last Saturday, then Salido will never beat Vargas. I don’t know how the judges couldn’t have seen that Salido was the better fighter.
Salido has other options availdable to him besides a second fight against Vargas. He can fight the winner – or loser – of this Saturday’s fight between WBO super featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Vasyl Lomachenko. Salido has fought both guys in the past in exciting fights, and they would both likely want to fight him next due to the fight being one that HBO would be willing to televise. Lomachenko’s promoters at Top Rank would like to match him against Salido, as there’s the revenge factor at play. Salido beat Lomachenko by a 12 round decision two years ago in 2014.
In last Saturday’s fight card at the Bell Center in Montreal, Canada, light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev’s fight against Ezequiel Maderna, averaged 384,000 viewers on Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN. The numbers weren’t great, but Beterbiev hasn’t built up a large following as of yet in the United States, and he hadn’t fought in an entire year.
Beterbiev stopped Maderna in the 4th round after knocking him down multiple times in the fight. The bout was supposed to have been a competitive one, but it turned out to be a mismatch. Maderna fought like he didn’t want to be there.
Beterbiev looked good for someone who had been out of the ring for 12 months with a shoulder injury. However, Beterbiev is going to need to improve if he wants to be able to beat IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Beterbiev is building in the future towards that fight. He needs to pick up some speed somewhere along the lines because Kovalev will give him many problems right now with the way he looked against Maderna.
In last Friday’s mismatch between former lightweight champion Mickey Bey and Rances Barthelemy, it drew 468,000 viewers on Spike TV. It was a Premier Boxing Champions card.