The term “wear and tear” usually refers to a fighter’s perpetuity to either bleed or hurt profusely. In this case, Orlando Salido and Francisco Vargas wore down on each other like a wet, humid mask, suffocating one another, and then began to tear directly into each other from the opening round.
By the 5th round, Vargas’s face streamed blood like a broken faucet. Salido’s work rate was reminiscent of a “Homicide” Hank Armstrong; he was a picture of perpetual motion. “Slaughterin’” Salido may be a more apt description of the Mexican journeyman who is renowned for testing the merit of every fighter unfortunate enough to share the ring with him.
In the 6th round, Vargas stunned Salido with an overhand right and seemed to build momentum toward another mauling TKO victory but then Salido roared back like an old lion fighting for his pride. In the 8th, referee Raul Caiz, Sr. checked Vargas for a cut, (which was caused by a punch but was irritated by a head butt) and he proceeded to warn the fighters for the rest of the round about their colliding craniums.
Between the 8th and 9th rounds, Vargas’ corner wisely enlightened their man to his declining score on the cards. In the 9th round, Vargas began to fight back and regain momentum, but it had hint of a last ditch effort in his attempt, while Salido continued to bore in with the same work rate that a blender grinds down and melts away ice. Salido’s punches are the paint brush, Vargas’ face was the canvas and boom, came the art.
The tenth round proceeded to provide all the prolific excitement you would expect 300 Greek warriors would use to fend off a Persian empire.
In the 11th, the two entered the realm of boxing immortality, head-to-head, fist-to-fist. Fight of the year, the round of the year, heart of the year and balls of the year were present and displayed for the sole purpose of providing boxing with a mirror that showed it its true form.
The last round was as anticipated as Christmas in the mythical realm of Narnia. Three minutes of lactic acid building up, dry esophagus’s scrapping their windpipes for air, it was boxing euphoria and their combined will together would be enough to power a nuclear city.
Blood streaming, arms swinging and a raw, ruthless craving for victory led them down the stretch, and the fight was dead even. The boxing gods looked down and nodded in approval, and there is feeling the late Muhammad Ali and Smokin’ Joe Frazier were sitting somewhere in boxing heaven, front row and leaning over to one another saying, “Retirement is as beautiful as our work was brutal.”
The fight was a draw and as unsatisfying as a draw may be, this fight was every bit as satisfying as a fight could hope to be.
By the end both of Vargas’ eyebrows were split wide enough to fit a roll of quarters in. Regaining his title Vargas proclaimed,
“I’m very happy, and this is what I wanted,”
through an interpreter. “And I’m looking for more challenges. For now, I just need to relax for a little bit.” He deserves the time to rest after two back to back fights of the year.
Salido on the other is coming off of a consecutive fight of the year type draws. “I knew I was winning the fight,” he said through an interpreter, and when mentioned if he would fight Vasyl Lomachenko again he said,
“I’m here for him, but he doesn’t want me because I’m not a world champion, but here I am.”
Slaughtering Salido has averaged 1000 punches a fight for his last four fights. The only question more profound than who will they fight next is, will they ever fight each other again.