This storyline was no different heading into his fight last Saturday against Vasyl Lomachenko, 1-1 (1), on the undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez’s Jr.’s rematch with Bryan Vera, live from San Antonio, Texas on HBO. This point was referenced by ringside analyst Max Kellerman, who said, “Salido has seldom been the story going into his own fights.” This fight, in which Vasyl was trying to secure Salido’s World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight title, was a close one that saw the never-say-die Salido maul, brawl and claw his way to a split decision win over the favored Lomachenko (the title was not on the line for former champion Salido as he failed to make weight). The win, which will likely be his last fight at featherweight, allows “Siri” to continue his career, something that perhaps would have been looked at closely by manager Sean Gibbons had Salido been beaten convincingly.
Fans are finally going to have to give the rugged Salido his props. Salido has beaten some excellent fighters in his career and is a multiple world champion. However, early days in the sport littered his record with some losses that seem to have misled and influenced fans’ opinions about the tough, talented Mexican. And once again on Saturday night, when he entered the ring, Salido was thought to be a quality but ultimately beatable B-side foil for the emerging, former amateur star Lomachenko, who was being groomed by his promoter, Top Rank Promotions to win a world title in only his second bout. One could assume the script was to usher Salido into retirement with a nice payday and set up amateur star Lomachenko for a bout down the line with another former amateur standout, World Boxing Association (WBA) and WBO super featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux later in the year in a battle of two Olympic legends.
But once again, the tough Salido had other ideas and in the end, held off the challenge of the talented, former amateur standout. Most fans felt going into the fight that Salido would get outboxed or if Salido could survive early and get Lomachenko into the later rounds, he could impose himself and perhaps get a late stoppage. In the end, the fight went the full 12 rounds and Salido found himself getting the nod in a close, split decision. Nobody was surprised that iron-tough Salido never took a step backward. Some fans may have been surprised in the fashion Lomachenko fought as he seemed to conserve energy all night, perhaps concerned about the later rounds in his first 12-round bout.
This afforded the aggressive Salido the luxury of not having to look for Vasyl in the ring as the Russian challenger seemed to conserve the mileage on his legs in the early rounds. The fight featured a lot of holding from Lomachenko and a few blows straying south of the border from Salido but it appeared that Orlando was ahead on the cards heading into the last couple of rounds. However, a strong surge from Lomachenko in the last round had the former champion Salido hurt to a degree. But like he has done so many times in his career, “Siri” hung tough and gutted out the win.
It would be easy to say that Salido is simply an old-school tough guy and make no mistake; in boxing that is a compliment. However, when you do it at the elite, championship-level, that is a different story. As HBO ringside announcer and former pound-for-pound champion Roy Jones Jr. observed, “This guy has the heart of a real champion.”
For the last dozen years, Salido has drained himself to make weight and on Saturday evening, his body just said, “No mas,” but in a smart move, Salido’s team declined to not even try to encourage him to make weight. At his age and stage of his career, the potential weight loss would have depleted him of any strength going into the fight. By declining to try to lose more weight and electing to forfeit some of his purse, he, in essence, gained a huge weight and health advantage going into the fight by not torturing his already-drained body trying to shed his last two pounds.
While he didn’t retain his title, Salido (more importantly) won the fight and in the end, that was what counted. He will now continue a few pounds north and look to secure a couple more fights against boxing’s 130-pound elite before he calls it a career. And at some point, the boxing world is going to have to give this guy his due and start to see him as more than a gutsy, overachiever. Don’t be surprised to see him upsetting the odds again and adding another impressive “W” to his résumé in his next fight. However, maybe this time, Orlando Salido will be the story going in.
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