There are few who expect anything less than an action-packed fight-of-the-year contender when junior lightweight titleholder Francisco Vargas and former titlist Orlando Salido meet on June 4 in the HBO main event at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The co-feature, while not as significant, could also produce fireworks.
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 meet in a 10-rounder that will open the television broadcast.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN.com on Monday that the rumored fight has been finalized.
"These are two of our young, undefeated kids and they fight in the same weight class as two of our other prospects in the same weight class," De La Hoya said, referring to his nephew, Diego De La Hoya, and 2012 U.S. Olympian Joseph Diaz. "So, eventually, the winner will be facing off with one of those fighters. At some point we want to match them all up."
All four fighters have been nurtured on Golden Boy's monthly "LA Fight Club" series so "this fight, Ramirez against Lopez, is a great indication of how important our series is," De La Hoya said. "These two kids were brought up in the Los Angeles fight scene and now they are graduating to HBO."
Diaz (20-0, 11 KOs) made his HBO debut on March 26 and pounded his way to a resounding 10-round decision victory against former world title challenger Jayson Velez. Diego De La Hoya (14-0, 8 KOs) is probably only a fight or two away from making the leap.
Before finalizing Ramirez-Lopez, Golden Boy tried to make a match between middleweights James Kirkland and Gabriel Rosado for the slot. But Golden Boy said that Kirkland radically priced himself out of the fight, asking for $2 million, much more than he made for his last fight, which was a big one. That's when Canelo Alvarez brutally knocked Kirkland out cold in the third round in what became the ESPN.com knockout of the year.
Golden Boy also said it tried to make the mandatory bout between interim heavyweight titlist Luis Ortiz and Alexander Ustinov but it made little progress and instead went with Ramirez-Lopez, an easy match to make and one that much better fits the tight HBO budget.
"It's an action fight," De La Hoya said. "Both guys don't how to take a step backwards. Both guys have good punching power. Both guys throw a lot of punches, so it should call for an exciting fight. Neither of these guys hesitated when we said we wanted to make this fight. We strongly feel with developing these kids in L.A., there's a like a turf war going on. They want to prove they are the best in Los Angeles in that weight class and they will have the chance."