Former junior lightweight world titleholder Francisco Vargas, one-half of the fight of the year for both 2015 and 2016, will face Rod Salka on April 12.
The scheduled 10-round fight will headline a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Thursday.
“I want to become world champion again,” Vargas said. “As always, I am working with discipline. I’ll deliver a great performance and Rod Salka will not stop me from doing that.”
Vargas has had a memorable series of fights and a win over Salka could position him for another title opportunity.
Vargas was on the verge of being knocked out but rallied to stop Takashi Miura in the ninth round of a wild fight to win a 130-pound world title in November 2015 in the fight of the year. Vargas’ first title defense, against former titlist Orlando Salido in June 2016, was another ferocious slugfest that ended in a draw and was the second fight in a row in which Vargas suffered severe cuts.
Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) then lost his title by 11th-round knockout in another grueling fight with Mexican countryman Miguel Berchelt in January 2017. He suffered bad cuts again and was out until December, when Vargas returned for a ninth-round technical decision win over Stephen Smith. Now Vargas will go for his second win in a row.
Salka (24-4, 4 KOs), 35, of Bunola, Pennsylvania, had his biggest fight in 2014, when he was served up as a soft-touch opponent for the much bigger Danny Garcia and suffered a brutal second-round knockout in the junior welterweight bout.
Since then, Salka has won five fights in a row against lesser opposition, and now he’s going back to junior lightweight.
“I’m excited to be at 130 pounds,” Salka said. “Francisco Vargas stands in the way of me fighting [world titleholder] Berchelt, so he has to be eliminated. I can’t wait for April 12.”
In another fight on the card, San Diego lightweight Genaro Gamez (7-0, 5 KOs) will meet the Philippines’ Recky Dulay (10-3, 7 KOs) in a scheduled eight-rounder.
Others slated to appear on card are featherweight Javier Martinez (5-0, 3 KOs), of Dallas; Irish welterweight Aaron McKenna (1-0, 0 KOs); Coachella, California junior lightweight Rommel Caballero (0-0), who is the younger brother of former bantamweight titlist Randy Caballero; and junior featherweight Javier Padilla (5-0-1, 5 KOs) of Rancho Mirage, California. Their opponents are to be announced.