ESPN2 results: Francisco Vargas breaks down Rod Salka, calls out Miguel Berchelt

Junior lightweight Francisco Vargas (right) vs. Rod Salka. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


After six full rounds of dominance, Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas forced the corner of “Lightning” Rod Salka to stop the fight, earning the Mexican a TKO victory and an opportunity to call out the only man to beat him. The junior lightweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds, and was the main event of an ESPN2 telecast Thursday night, from the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino, in Indio, California.


“I want the rematch. I’m ready. Let’s go!” Vargas told ESPN’s Beto Duran in the post-fight interview, in regard to a rematch with WBC junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Berchelt. “I wanted to put on a good show and I think I did that.”


Vargas, 25-1-2 (18), earned his second win within the past four months and, perhaps just as importantly after the last one, didn’t suffer any cuts. Fighting under the tutelage of Joel Diaz for the first time, the 33-year-old from Mexico City had a persistent offense and a sound enough defense to prevent the tender skin around his eyes from tearing. Vargas used his jab well to gauge distance but his uppercuts on the inside, the power right off the jab and the body work slowly broke Salka down.


Wearing “America 1st” trunks that were patterned like a brick wall, Salka, 24-5 (4), didn’t have the foundation technically to stay afloat against a fighter like Vargas. There really was no jab from the 35-year-old and, although his hurried attack to the body was inspired, Vargas had an easy time blocking the shots with his elbows and keeping his hands up when Salka tried upstairs. In the fourth, Salka was cut near his left eye after Vargas placed a shot there to end a combo and, in the fifth, the physical breakdown was becoming more apparent. In the final moments of the round, Vargas landed a perfect uppercut, just after a body shot sent Salka backward. The uppercut sent Salka to the mat in the fight’s only knockdown and, after Vargas forced Salka’s left eye to swell in the sixth, the American’s corner stopped the fight before the seventh could start.


Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


In the TV swing bout, Rommel Caballero, 0-0-1, had his pro debut marred when a first round head clash cut his opponent Eric Rodriguez, 1-2-1, which forced the fight to be stopped before the second round. The junior lightweight contest, scheduled for four, resulted in a technical draw.


Junior lightweight debutant Rommel Caballero (right) vs. Eric Rodriguez. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


Opening the ESPN2 card, junior lightweight Andrew “El Chango” Cancio handed Aidar Sharibayev his first defeat after forcing the latter’s corner to throw in the towel in the 10th and final round.


Coming off a 16-month layoff, Cancio, 18-4-2 (14), came in as the proverbial B-side to upset, and ultimately expose, the Kazakhstani prospect. After two competitive rounds, the 29-year-old changed everything with a big left hand in the final seconds of the third to drop Sharibayev for a knockdown. The bell saved him in that instance but Sharibayev, 7-1 (6), would be put through hell in what seemed like the final minute of every round, going forward. In the fifth, an accumulation of shots dropped Sharibayev with 30 seconds left to go. A big body shot at the end of the seventh had him wobbled badly and Cancio made the same thing happen at the end of the ninth. Cancio put on a clinic on the inside and the body shots had Sharibayev’s legs wobbly for the second half of the fight. Forty-three seconds into the 10th round, Cancio had Sharibayev reeling and that’s when referee Raul Caiz Sr. was forced to stop the bout, once realizing the towel was thrown.


Junior lightweight Andrew Cancio (right) vs. Aidar Sharibayev. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos./Golden Boy Promotions


“I would say excellent,” Cancio said about his performance afterward. The win earned him a WBA junior lightweight regional trinket and certainly another opportunity ahead. “I threw my jab a lot, threw my combinations. I was smart, moved out of the way. I know you guys seen a different Chango in there tonight. That felt good today.”


The Golden Boy Promotions undercard was streamed live on ESPN3 and, warming up the ring in the final bout before the ESPN telecast, Javier Padilla avenged a previous draw by earning a unanimous decision over Ricardo Arias, after the two junior lightweights went to war for 12 minutes.


Junior lightweight Javier Padilla (right) vs. Ricardo Arias. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


Padilla, 6-0-1 (5), landed the most memorable punches of the action fight, and even hurt Arias a couple of times, but his Mexican foe wouldn’t go out easily. Arias, 1-3-1, was able to not only take a good shot but land several of his own, that had Padilla huffing and puffing throughout, but he couldn’t see many of the lead left hooks and power rights from the hometown prospect to convincingly win the heated rounds.


Irish welterweight prospect Aaron “The Silencer” McKenna walloped Keasen Freeman to earn another first round stoppage, less than a month from his most recent. The contest was scheduled for four rounds.


Welterweight Aaron McKenna (right) vs. Keasen Freeman. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


McKenna, 3-0 (2), may have one-upped his most recent fight with such a dominant performance. Less than a minute into the bout, McKenna landed a right hand on Freeman’s temple that sent the 20-year-old to the mat. Freeman, 4-2 (2), tried his best to move around the ring and throw awkward left hands but McKenna was locked in, and stalked his prey rather easily, finding the right hand again for another knockdown. Freeman got up in time but referee Wayne Hedgepeth waved it off to no complaint.


Opening the card, junior welterweight Genaro Gamez remained undefeated after earning a unanimous decision (79-73 twice, 77-75) over Shoki Sakai but the Mexican certainly had to work for it against his durable Japanese opponent.


Junior welterweight Genaro Gamez (left) vs. Shoki Sakai. Photo credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions


The fight was made yesterday but Gamez and Sakai’s styles meshed perfectly. Gamez, 8-0 (5), got the better of the exchanges, however, by using varied combinations to the body. When he wanted to, Gamez kept Sakai away from him with a jab. Sakai, 23-8-2 (13), a 27-year-old now living and training out of Mexico City, took Gamez’s shots well enough to stay in the pocket and let off overhand rights of his own that would sometimes garner a reaction from the 22-year-old Mexican prospect from San Diego, California. Despite the wide scores, the fight was fluid enough to keep from being the blowout they had indicated, and Gamez certainly got some experience from this clear-cut victory.




You can reach Michael Baca II at and follow him at




Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,