Rod Salka ventured back into the ring on Thursday night in Indio, Calif., for a bout against former WBC super featherweight champion Francisco Vargas. “Lightning Rod” had won five straight fights since getting knocked out by Danny Garcia in 2014, so he came in with a full head of steam.
He also was wearing shorts that read “America 1st” and sported a brick-wall pattern in American-flag colors, as if he was trying to send some sort of message to his opponent, who happens to hail from Mexico.
Despite his pro-wall sentiments, Salka’s defense failed him starting in the fifth round. As told by Boxing Scene, Vargas landed an uppercut that sent Salka to his knees, his only savior being the bell that ended the round. In the sixth, Vargas opened up a cut over Salka’s left eye. The seventh round never happened, as his corner stopped the fight.
Salka, 35, lost for just the fifth time in his boxing career, but it wasn’t his first lopsided defeat after making a political statement. He ran as a Republican for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2016, losing to Democratic incumbent William Kortz by more than 30 percentage points.
“The 38th District has been underrepresented in Harrisburg for decades now,” Salka, who joined the National Guard in 2001, said in announcing his intention to run in February 2016. “We need to break with the past and demand that our voices, our values, and our vision of the future be heard in the general assembly.”
“The military taught me a great deal about urgency. You can’t just get around to things. They have to be done quickly and done well,” Salka added. “That’s the kind of urgency I want to bring to Harrisburg, where the current crew can’t get a budget passed. It’s not enough to just show up. You have to do your job.”
Garcia improved to 25-1-2.
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