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Francisco Vargas-Orlando Salido carries fight of the year expectations

CARSON, Calif. -- Every once in a while there is a fight that is simply a no-brainer to make, and it actually gets made.

It's one that fans want to see. It promises great action. It is for high stakes. And then it gets done. Quickly. It doesn't take five years like it took for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to get it on.

Instead, it takes about five minutes to finalize. There is no posturing. No wild purse demands. No promoter or television politics whatsoever. This is Francisco Vargas versus Orlando Salido in nutshell.

Vargas will make the first defense of his junior lightweight world title when he meets Mexican countryman and former titleholder Orlando Salido on Saturday night (HBO, 10:30 ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California in a bout virtually everyone, including the fighters, expects to challenge for fight of the year.

"I had always said I want to fight the best and I consider Salido one of the best. And I believe that both of our styles match very good in the ring and it's going to make a very exciting fight, and that's the reason I'm excited. I know that it definitely could be a candidate for fight of the year." Francisco Vargas

Undefeated featherweight prospects Julian Ramirez (16-0, 8 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw from Los Angeles and the nephew of the late junior lightweight world champion Genaro Hernandez, and Abraham Lopez (20-0-1, 15 KOs), 28, of La Puente, California, will both make their HBO debuts in the scheduled 10-round co-feature.

But back to the main event.

"Both Vargas and Salido have proven that they are warriors and I am looking forward to their fight," said Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., who knows a thing or two about being in an exciting fight. "I am sure is going to be great and that the fans are going to enjoy a fight of the year type war and may the best man win."

When Vargas-Salido is over, might it even compare favorably to the revered 2005 lightweight unification fight between the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, the modern standard bearer for action-packed world title fights?

"I think so. I think if you go there, it might be even better," Salido said through a translator. "It think our styles are made perfect for each other. I think we're going to go in there from minute one and just start throwing punches. There's not going to be any speculation out there. There's going to be a lot of entertainment for the fans."

Both fighters certainly have history when it comes to blazing fights. The 31-year-old Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs), a 2008 Mexican Olympian, was not all that well known when he challenged Japan's Takashi Miura for his 130-pound world title in Las Vegas in November in the co-feature on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto card.

After the fight they put on, Vargas' profile suddenly became much bigger, although he goes into Saturday's fight having had his reputation take a ding because of a positive test in April for the banned substance clenbuterol. The California State Athletic Commission is allowing the fight to go on because it gave Vargas the benefit of the doubt that the bad test was because he ate tainted meat in Mexico, where that is an issue. He has been subject to even more rigorous random drug testing since.

"I just want to let everyone know (they should) cancel everything: no weddings, no business, no QuinceaƱera, no nothing. Just go watch this fight. You're going to enjoy it. We're going to give you a great, great fight, something you're going to remember for a long, long time." Orlando Salido

As good as Alvarez-Cotto was, Vargas-Miura stole the show by producing the 2015 fight of the year, one in which Vargas, who had been knocked down in the fourth round, whose right eye was swollen shut and who was on the verge of being stopped in the eighth round of a competitive and intense fight, mounted an huge comeback and knocked Miura out in the ninth round.

"I'm ready to give another incredible fight to the fans," Vargas said through a translator.

Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs) may not have ever been in the official fight of the year, but the former featherweight and junior lightweight titleholder has been in his share of memorable battles that have often challenged for fight of the year.

Among his best: two upset knockout wins in featherweight world title fights against Juan Manuel Lopez in 2011 and 2012, an 11th-round knockout of Terdsak Kokietgym in a spectacular 2014 war for a junior lightweight belt that featured seven combined knockdowns, and his two wild junior lightweight title battles with Rocky Martinez last year, a decision loss and a draw, both of which many felt Salido, 35, clearly won.

"The fans have responded because this is guaranteed to be an action-packed fight," said Ralph Heredia, who manages Vargas. "Not just as a manager but also as a fan of the sport, I am excited for this fight."

Said Sean Gibbons, Salido's manager: "There are fights that need no hype and Francisco Vargas versus Orlando Salido is one them. These are two real Mexican warriors who will give it their all inside the ring and I believe that we have here is a can't-miss fight of the year."

The fact that the fight is taking place at the StubHub Center adds to the allure of Vargas-Salido. It's an intimate outdoor arena where fans are right on top of the action that has become known to many as "the war zone" because there have been so many exciting fights there, including Lucas Matthysse-John Molina (the 2014 Boxing Writers Association of America fight of the year), Tim Bradley Jr.-Ruslan Provodnikov (the consensus 2013 fight of the year) and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez I and III (the consensus fights of the year in 2007 and 2008, respectively).

"We are privileged these fighters stepped up to face each other," said HBO executive vice president Peter Nelson, who didn't hesitate to buy the fight when approached by Golden Boy. "StubHub is a great venue for us. It is our 14th time here for a fight. There is something about the energy in the arena here that makes the fighters step up. This fight is a tremendous event."

Said Robert Diaz, Golden Boy's matchmaker, "When you have two Mexican warriors in the right place like we will on Saturday night, we are guaranteed fireworks. Saturday night will be special."

Both fighters said they are ready to produce that special kind of fight.

"I had always said I want to fight the best and I consider Salido one of the best," Vargas said. "And I believe that both of our styles match very good in the ring and it's going to make a very exciting fight, and that's the reason I'm excited. I know that it definitely could be a candidate for fight of the year."

Salido has had a long, hard career since turning pro at age 15. But he said he is ready for another grueling fight and looking forward to it.

"I'm a warrior and Vargas is a warrior. The ones who will win will be the fans," Salido said. "I've never been a protected fighter. I have to take the fights that are offered to me, but it's very exciting to me. I like those kinds of fights. I love going in there and fighting those kinds of fights. It's what I like to do. I'm very excited about this type of fight because I think it'll be just like the other ones.

"I just want to let everyone know (they should) cancel everything: no weddings, no business, no CARSON, Calif. -- Every once in a while there is a fight that is simply a no-brainer to make and it actually gets made.

It's one that fans want to see. It promises great action. It is for high stakes. And then it gets done. Quickly. It doesn't take five years like it took for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to get it on.

Instead, it takes about five minutes to finalize. There is no posturing. No wild purse demands. No promoter or television politics whatsoever. This is Francisco Vargas versus Orlando Salido in nutshell.

Vargas will make the first defense of his junior lightweight world title when he meets Mexican countryman and former titleholder Orlando Salido on Saturday night (HBO, 10:30 ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California in a bout virtually everyone, including the fighters, expects to challenge for fight of the year.

"I had always said I want to fight the best and I consider Salido one of the best. And I believe that both of our styles match very good in the ring and it's going to make a very exciting fight, and that's the reason I'm excited. I know that it definitely could be a candidate for fight of the year." Francisco Vargas

Undefeated featherweight prospects Julian Ramirez (16-0, 8 KOs), a 23-year-old southpaw from Los Angeles and the nephew of the late junior lightweight world champion Genaro Hernandez, and Abraham Lopez (20-0-1, 15 KOs), 28, of La Puente, California, will both make their HBO debuts in the scheduled 10-round co-feature.

But back to the main event.

"Both Vargas and Salido have proven that they are warriors and I am looking forward to their fight," said Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., who knows a thing or two about being in an exciting fight. "I am sure is going to be great and that the fans are going to enjoy a fight of the year type war and may the best man win."

When Vargas-Salido is over might it even compare favorably to the revered 2005 lightweight unification fight between the late Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, the modern standard bearer for action-packed world title fights?

"I think so. I think if you go there it might be even better," Salido said through a translator. "It think our styles are made perfect for each other. I think we're going to go in there from minute one and just start throwing punches. There's not going to be any speculation out there. There's going to be a lot of entertainment for the fans."

Both fighters certainly have history when it comes to blazing fights. The 31-year-old Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs), a 2008 Mexican Olympian, was not all that well known when he challenged Japan's Takashi Miura for his 130-pound world title in Las Vegas in November in the co-feature on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto card.

After the fight they put on, Vargas' profile suddenly became much bigger, although he goes into Saturday's fight having had his reputation take a ding because of a positive test in April for the banned substance clenbuterol. The California State Athletic Commission is allowing the fight to go on because it gave Vargas the benefit of the doubt that the bad test was because he ate tainted meat in Mexico, where that is an issue. He has been subject to even more rigorous random drug testing since.

"I just want to let everyone know (they should) cancel everything: no weddings, no business, no QuinceaƱera, no nothing. Just go watch this fight. You're going to enjoy it. We're going to give you a great, great fight, something you're going to remember for a long, long time." Orlando Salido

As good as Alvarez-Cotto was, Vargas-Miura stole the show by producing the 2015 fight of the year, one in which Vargas, who had been knocked down in the fourth round, whose right eye was swollen shut and who was on the verge of being stopped in the eighth round of a competitive and intense fight, mounted an huge comeback and knocked Miura out in the ninth round.

"I'm ready to give another incredible fight to the fans," Vargas said through a translator.

Salido (43-13-3, 30 KOs) may not have ever been in the official fight of the year but the former featherweight and junior lightweight titleholder has been in his share of memorable battles that have often challenged for fight of the year.

Among his best: two upset knockout wins in featherweight world title fights against Juan Manuel Lopez in 2011 and 2012, an 11th-round knockout of Terdsak Kokietgym in a spectacular 2014 war for a junior lightweight belt that featured seven combined knockdowns, and his two wild junior lightweight title battles with Rocky Martinez last year, a decision loss and a draw, both of which many felt Salido, 35, clearly won.

"The fans have responded because this is guaranteed to be an action-packed fight," said Ralph Heredia, who manages Vargas. "Not just as a manager but also as a fan of the sport, I am excited for this fight."

Said Sean Gibbons, Salido's manager: "There are fights that need no hype and Francisco Vargas versus Orlando Salido is one them. These are two real Mexican warriors who will give it their all inside the ring and I believe that we have here is a can't miss fight of the year."

The fact that the fight is taking place at the StubHub Center adds to the allure of Vargas-Salido. It's an intimate outdoor arena where fans are right on top of the action that has become known to many as "the war zone" because there have been so many exciting fights there, including Lucas Matthysse-John Molina (the 2014 Boxing Writers Association of America fight of the year), Tim Bradley Jr.-Ruslan Provodnikov (the consensus 2013 fight of the year) and Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez I and III (the consensus fights of the year in 2007 and 2008, respectively).

"We are privileged these fighters stepped up to face each other," said HBO executive vice president Peter Nelson, who didn't hesitate to buy the fight when approached by Golden Boy. "StubHub is a great venue for us. It is our 14th time here for a fight. There is something about the energy in the arena here that makes the fighters step up. This fight is a tremendous event."

Said Robert Diaz, Golden Boy's matchmaker, "When you have two Mexican warriors in the right place like we will on Saturday night, we are guaranteed fireworks. Saturday night will be special."

Both fighters said they are ready to produce that special kind of fight.

"I had always said I want to fight the best and I consider Salido one of the best," Vargas said. "And I believe that both of our styles match very good in the ring and it's going to make a very exciting fight, and that's the reason I'm excited. I know that it definitely could be a candidate for fight of the year."

Salido has had a long, hard career since turning pro at age 15. But he said he is ready for another grueling fight and looking forward to it.

"I'm a warrior and Vargas is a warrior. The ones who will win will be the fans," Salido said. "I've never been a protected fighter. I have to take the fights that are offered to me, but it's very exciting to me. I like those kinds of fights. I love going in there and fighting those kinds of fights. It's what I like to do. I'm very excited about this type of fight because I think it'll be just like the other ones.

"I just want to let everyone know (they should) cancel everything: no weddings, no business, no quinceanera, no nothing. Just go watch this fight. You're going to enjoy it. We're going to give you a great, great fight, something you're going to remember for a long, long time."

, no nothing. Just go watch this fight. You're going to enjoy it. We're going to give you a great, great fight, something you're going to remember for a long, long time."