Former world titleholders Orlando Salido and Takashi Miura, both fearless warriors with a nose for action-packed battles, will next take that style to the ring against each other.
In a fight that virtually guarantees wild action, they will square off for a vacant interim junior lightweight title on Dec. 17 in the main event of an HBO "Boxing After Dark" card at The Forum in Inglewood, California, after their camps finalized a deal Thursday, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com.
"It's signed, sealed and delivered," De La Hoya said. "It's not complicated matchmaking, but it goes to show you that we at Golden Boy want to make the best fights. We want to go out with a bang to close the year. We're hopefully going to do a tripleheader on HBO. We're talking to [HBO Sports executive vice president] Peter Nelson about it, because we want to give the fans a special treat for the holidays."
Given their fight histories, Miura and Salido seem incapable of producing anything but an action-packed brawl.
Miura (30-3-2, 23 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw from Japan, won a junior lightweight world title in 2013 and made four successful defenses before losing it to Francisco Vargas by ninth-round knockout in November on the Canelo Alvarez-Miguel Cotto undercard at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The dramatic and action-packed bout was the 2015 ESPN.com fight of the year.
Miura has fought once since, scoring a first-round knockout in Japan in May.
Mexico's Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs), 35, a former junior lightweight and featherweight world titleholder, is just 0-1-2 in his past three fights, but each was an epic battle that many thought he won. In April 2015, he lost his junior lightweight title by decision to Roman "Rocky" Martinez in a scintillating fight of the year contender. He then was held to a split draw five months later in the rematch, which is another fight of the year contender.
Those fights were so entertaining that Salido, who also has been in all-action slugfests that he won against Juan Manuel Lopez (twice) and Terdsak Kokietgym in recent years, was rewarded with a shot at Vargas.
They met at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on June 4, one day after the death of Muhammad Ali, and they did "The Greatest" proud with a classic brawl that ended in a draw and is the leader for 2016 fight of the year honors. The draw also triggered Golden Boy's options on Salido's next two fights, which enabled it to more easily work with his other promoter, Zanfer Promotions, to make the fight with Miura, whom Golden Boy co-promotes with Akihiko Honda's Teiken Boxing.
"All I can say is that boxing fans and subscribers to HBO are the absolute winners here," said Sean Gibbons, Salido's manager. "Orlando Salido has already delivered one fight of the year candidate this year, and he is looking to close the year by delivering another one. We want to thank Peter Nelson for seeing and understanding this is a fight the fans want. It's a win-win for boxing and HBO."
Salido hoped for an immediate rematch with Vargas, and Miura also hoped for another chance to fight him. But with Vargas suffering bad cuts against Salido, he will be out until at least early 2017. So the WBC approved Salido-Miura for the interim belt, and the winner will face Vargas next year.
De La Hoya has special memories of The Forum because it is where he turned pro on Nov. 23, 1992, almost 24 years to the day when Salido-Miura will take place.
"I had my professional debut there, and I haven't been there since [for boxing]," De La Hoya said. "It will be a special treat for me to promote a fight of this caliber in the arena where I initiated my professional career. To go back 24 years later is really exciting, especially when you have a fight like this.
"Their styles are made to create World War III. This is a can't-miss fight. The fans are in for a special treat. I can't wait."
Gibbons said Salido also loves that the fight will take place at The Forum, site of many famous fights before it closed to the sport for more than a decade before reopening in 2014.
"A lot of his idols fought there," Gibbons said. "There is so much beautiful history in that building, so for Salido to fight there, it will raise the level of his game."
Asked to pick a favorite in the apparent 50-50 fight, De La Hoya said he leans slightly to Miura.
"I think Miura is the bigger guy and maybe the bigger puncher," De La Hoya said. "So I guess he's the slight favorite, but Salido looked sensational against Vargas, strong and durable."
As for the other fights he hopes HBO will televise, De La Hoya said he will speak to Nelson about a trio of fighters he promotes: featherweight Joseph Diaz (22-0, 13 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian coming off a one-sided ninth-round knockout of Andrew Cancio on Sept. 17 on the Alvarez-Liam Smith undercard; welterweight Frankie Gomez (21-0, 13 KOs), who is coming off a 10-round shutout decision against Mauricio Herrera on the May 7 Alvarez-Amir Khan card; and former middleweight titlist David Lemieux (35-3, 32 KOs).
HBO contractually owes Lemieux one fight, and he would have to win and be uninjured in an Oct. 22 bout in his native Montreal.
"Whatever we do we want to make sure we give the fans a great show to end the year with," he said.
Salido-Miura came together rather quickly. When Alvarez was ruled out of a December HBO fight because he suffered a fractured right thumb against Smith in a ninth-round knockout win on HBO PPV on Sept. 17, the network suddenly had a windfall of money, in the neighborhood of $4 million, that was not going to be used this year.
That gave Nelson the funds needed to make the Salido-Miura card, the Nov. 26 fight between junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters -- which was announced this week -- and, assuming the deal is finalized, unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin against mandatory challenger and secondary titleholder Daniel Jacobs on Dec. 10.