Vargas Tears Down Salka’s Wall
By Albert Castillo
Photos: William Trillo
In the main event of the evening, In front of a crowd of
1,456 fans at Fantasy Springs Casino and Resort in Indio,
CA., Golden Boy Promotions and ESPN witnessed former Mexican
Olympian and WBC Super Featherweight Champion, Francisco “El
Bandido” Vargas (25-1-2 18KO’s), dominated an outclassed Rod
Salka, (24-5, 4 KO’s) of Bunola, PA.
Blazoned in red, white and blue trunks, depicting a wall
with “America First” written across the belt, Rod Salka
attempted to intimidate the Mexican Vargas with politics.
Unfortunately for Salka, Vargas would have none of it. He
bounced Rod Salka around the ring for five solid round
dropping Salka in the fifth to one knee with a sharp body
shot. Salka could not answer the bell for the sixth and
Vargas recorded his 18th win by knockout.
"I wanted to put a great show," said Francisco Vargas."I did
what he worked on in the gym, fighting cautiously and moving
my head. I feel great because we did a great job. I want the
rematch against Miguel Berchelt. We're ready for that
With the crowd behind him, the Pride of Blythe, CA, Andrew,
“Chango” Cancio (18-4-2, 14 KO’s) stopped Kazakhstan fighter
Aidar Sharibayev, (7-1 6 KO’s) at 43 seconds of the tenth
round to win the vacant WBA Intercontinental Super
A surprised and overconfident Sharibayev was dropped in the
third and fifth rounds by a left uppercut and a straight
right hand respectively. Sharibayev who was often fighting
with his hands down could not match Cancio’s firepower. In
the tenth round with his hands down once again, Sharibayev
got caught by a Cancio combination only to have Referee Raul
Caiz step in to stop the fight. The jubilant crowd went wild
and Cancio was crowned the new champ.
“I listened to my corner, and I trained hard. That’s why I
got the victory,” said Andrew Cancio. “I threw jabs and
combinations, and I kept moving my head. This was a great
performance in front of my fans. It feels amazing because
hard work pays off.”
In the opening bout of the evening undefeated East LA Kid,
Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro (14-0, 7 KO’s ) outlasted a
resilient Justin Savi (9-15-1 6 KO’s) to garner a unanimous
decision. This was one of Navarro’s sturdiest opponents.
Navi withstood Navarro’s relentless body attack and
connected with a few overhand rights of his own. At times it
seemed as if Navi might go down from several right and left
hooks to his liver and midsection. However, in the end, the
tough Maryland native was still standing at the final bell.
The fight went to the scorecards and the judges had it all
for Navarro. 80-72, 80-72, 79-73.
“It was a tough fight because he can take a punch,” said
Navarro “I’ve been staying very busy because I’ve been
finishing my bouts clean and without taking too much
punishment. Hopefully, I can take a little break and come
back in the summer.”
Popular San Diegoan Genaro Gamez (8-0, 5 KO’s) remained
undefeated by earning a unanimous decision in what proved to
be his toughest opponent yet in technically sound Japanese
fighter Shoki Sakai (22-8-2, 13 KO’s. Whoa! And what a fight
it was as both fighters threw hard rapid-fire combinations
in every round. Sakai was no joke, as he attempted to give
as good as he got.
However, he just brought out the best in Gamez as the San
Diego pugilist returned fire with sharper and harder
right-left-rights. The highly entertaining fight went to the
scorecards and judges had it all for Gamez. 79-73, 77-75,
“I felt great, though he [Sakai] was much bigger,” said
Genaro Gamez. “It was good experienced because he was tough,
but at 130 or 135 nobody beats me.
In this rematch of super bantys hometown boy Javier Padilla
(6-0-1, 5 KO’s) avenged the only blemish on his record by
whipping Mexico’s Ricardo Arias. This fight was non-stop
action as both fighters shot from the hip with Padilla
The biggest punches were landed more frequently by Padilla
and emphasized with exclamation points by the Padilla
heavily favored crowd. Arias refused to go down and the
fight went to the cards. 40-36, 40-36, 39-37 all in favor of
“I’ve dedicated myself more to boxing this time around,”
said Javier Padilla. “That’s why I won this rematch. I was
working the graveyard shift before heading to the weigh-in
for the first fight. But I’ve quit my job, so I was well
rested for this one. I can’t wait to be back.”
Ireland’s budding prospect Aaron, “The Silencer” McKenna
(3-0, 2 KO’s) wasted no time in drilling once beaten Keason
Freeman (4-2, 2 KO’s) into the ground with devastating right
hands that Freeman never saw coming. McKenna dropped Freeman
early in the first round with a powerful right hand.
After the second knockdown, Freeman was seeing double and
the referee called a halt to the bout at 2:06 of the first
round. Aaron McKenna continues to impress with an aggressive
style reminiscent of young hungry fighters on their way up.
We look forward to seeing him again!
“I felt very strong,” said Aaron McKenna. “I landed some
good, solid shots. After he went down the first time, I knew
he couldn’t handle my power. I knew I had to start fast but
at the same time be patient, and it all came together.”
Due to an accidental headbutt Los Angeles native, Eric
Rodriguez (1-2-1) suffered a huge gash over his left eye and
was not able to continue, thus spoiling the pro debut of
hometown favorite out of Coachella, CA, Rommel Caballero
(0-0-1). In the first and only round Rommel Caballero showed
flashes of the Caballero pedigree. Unfortunately, as a
result of the headbutt the fight ended in a technical draw.