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Siri Completes World Title Hat Trick

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)

By Bill Tibbs


Like a fine wine, Orlando “Siri” Salido appears to be getting better with age. Salido dropped and stopped Puerto Rican Orlando Cruz to capture the vacant World Boxing Organization featherweight title Saturday night at the Thomas and Mack Centre in Las Vegas. The fight was featured on the undercard of Timothy Bradley’s successful defence of challenger Juan Manuel Marquez’s shot at his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight strap. This is Salido’s 3rd go around sporting world title hardware as the 55 fight veteran previously held the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and WBO world featherweight titles. Vicious body shots and hard overhand rights were the order of the day for the Obregon, Mexico native. Salido caught Cruz, who himself gained notoriety recently after coming out as one of boxing’s only openly gay fighters, with a hard right to drop and knockout his San Juan, Puerto Rico based challenger in the 7th round. “That was vintage Siri last night”, exclaimed manager Sean Gibbons the day after the fight, “he was very mentally and physically focused last night. He wasn’t leaving that ring without the world title belt around his waist”. Gibbons also reported that an interesting matchup will result from the world title win for Siri. A January 25th, 2014 date on HBO in New York City will include Salido defending against much lauded, (and recent Top Rank signing) amateur star Vasyl Lomachenko, who himself made his pro debut Saturday night in Sin City.

How does a fighter with 1 win under his professional belt challenge for a world title? Well, in this case this isn’t your average fighter. Said Gibbons, “after picking up a few wins in the world series of boxing, he, in a sense, has more like 6 or 7 professional wins”. However, his amateur pedigree more than likely vaults him ahead of some seasoned professional fighters anyway. The Ukrainian born, former amateur boxer won the featherweight Olympic gold medal and was also awarded the prestigious Val Barker trophy for the most ’outstanding boxer’ at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Vasyl then went on to win the gold medal at the 2009 World Amateur Championships, conceding only a handful of points in the whole tournament. Also in 2009, Lomachenko won the gold medal at the European amateur championships. In 2011, Lomachenko moved up to the lightweight division where he captured the gold medal at the World Amateur Championships. Then, in 2012, he won the Olympic gold medal at the Olympic Games in London, England. He finished his amateur career with an amazing 396-1 record. His only loss was avenged 2 times. So, clearly this isn’t your average fighter entering the professional ranks.

While the Odessa, Ukraine born, Olympian Lomachenko may be somewhat green when punching for pay, he has been solid gold in all other aspects of his ring career. In fact, he wanted to challenge for a world title in his pro debut. In picking up his first professional win Saturday night he beat 28 fight veteran Jose Ramirez to capture the WBO International featherweight title. Vasyl’s promoter Top Rank, like any good promoter, never one to let a good angle slip by, is more than happy to make the intriguing matchup with the heralded Olympian locking horns with the talented, title tested veteran, world champion Salido. Should the fight come to fruition, and all early indications are it will as Top Rank chief Arum has it slated for the January card in the “Big Apple”, this, says Gibbons will be an interesting fight. “This kid coming out of the Olympics is one of the greatest amateur boxers ever, very talented fighter. He wants to take a shot at setting a record for fastest world title. And Siri just wants to keep doing what he does, beating guys he’s not supposed to and showing everybody he’s one of the best featherweights in the world. This Lomachenko can fight but when he steps in there with a guy like Salido, with his experience and toughness, who works as hard as he does, he’s gonna be in a serious run. If the Salido that showed up Saturday night shows up in January in New York, he’s going to be awfully tough to beat”. Sounds like HBO and Top Rank are going to start 2014 off with a very interesting tussle at 126!

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