This weekend in Carson, California, Francisco Vargas makes the first defense of the WBC super featherweight title that he won by knocking out Takashi Miura in last year’s Fight of the Year. His opponent will be two-division champion Orlando Salido, one of the most relentless ring warriors of this century. There is tremendous anticipation for this bout.
But the undercard will feature another very good fight when unbeaten featherweight prospects Julian Ramirez and Abraham Lopez face off.
Ramirez is the great-nephew of Genaro Hernandez, one of the top 130-pound fighters of the 1990s. Ramirez was an outstanding amateur, compiling a record of 73-5. He’s a four-time National Police Athletic Commission champion and won a Junior Olympics gold medal in 2011. He turned professional at age 18.
His record to date is 16-0 with 8 KOs. He’s defeated some experienced journeymen in the past year and handled them as should be expected for a blue-chipper. But he’s so far faced nobody of real note.
This is a step-up fight for Lopez, as well, and if anything, he needs a win here even more than Ramirez does. Lopez is 28 and missed three crucial years from 2012 to 2015 while he sat out a promotional dispute. He’s stayed very busy since and has recorded a pair of very good stoppages against experienced stepping stones Alfred Tetteh and Jorge Diaz. At 20-0-1, with 15 KOs, Lopez has the slightly better resume and has shown more power than Ramirez has.
This very much looks like a toss-up fight going in. This is the kind of fight that excites the true boxing fan. Neither Ramirez or Lopez has reached the status of a true contender at this point. They are recognizable names to hardcore, west-coast boxing heads, but neither has established a national reputation.
But on Saturday night at the StubHub Center, one of these two can take a huge step toward becoming a true player at 126 pounds.