Juan Manuel Lopez, 30-0 (27 KOs), Caguas, Puerto Rico, WBO Featherweight Champion
Orlando Salido, 34-11-2 (22 KOs), Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico
Fight Odds: Juan Manuel Lopez (-1100), Orlando Salido (+800)
Over/Under: Over 9.5 (+120), Under 9.5 (-140)
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Showtime at 10:30 p.m. EST
WBO Featherweight Title: 12 Rounds
Preview: Rising champion Juan Manuel Lopez defends his belt against tough Orlando Salido in his home country of Puerto Rico on April 16. The bout will be featured on Showtime and anyone who has watched Lopez before knows he makes for compelling viewing. By choosing Salido, Team Lopez is trying to create a measuring stick, as Salido went the distance in his last fight with the other major fighter in the featherweight division—Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Lopez feels if he can beat Salido inside the distance, that he will begin to outshine his Cuban rival. Salido was tough against Gamboa and even if he was roundly outscored, he proved his mettle as a hard-edged veteran who can still compete. After shockingly defeating top-notch Robert Guerrero in 2006, Salido tested positive for performance-enhancing-drugs. It took him several years to regroup. In 2010, he reversed a loss to Mexican vet Cristobal Cruz to annex the IBF title, before losing it to Gamboa.
Salido is 30; despite a pro career that dates all the way back to 1996. He still has some fight left in him and judging by his performance against Gamboa—he can take a punch really well. This fight might be a little different. Against Gamboa, he was resilient, but his opponent was more in boxing mode. Gamboa had been trying to temper his super-aggressive style, which may have contributed to Salido lasting so long. When he opened up in the 12th, Salido was almost taken out of the fight, getting dropped twice before the bell saved him from a stoppage loss.
Against the southpaw banger Lopez, Salido will get no such reprieve. The young Puerto Rican heir-apparent is not as eager to curb his fury. Even after almost hitting a wall against Rogers Mtgawa in 2009, he remained true to his M.O. as a search-and-destroy warrior. His last 3 fights at the featherweight limit have shown him in excellent form, making one think that maybe the Mtgawa fight was a byproduct of struggling to make weight.
The boxing public is split on whether Lopez will eventually emerge as a true superstar. The way he leaves himself open is troublesome. His critics wonder aloud what will happen if a real featherweight puncher ever gets a hold of Lopez. Fair enough, but it might not be as easy as it sounds. Lopez is a tiger in the ring. Opponents will have to take an awful lot pf punishment if they hope to upset the young star and no one has managed it yet. Even murderous-punching Rafael Marquez could barely get a dipped knee out of Lopez in their 2010 brawl, despite landing his Sunday punch on various occasions.
Prediction: This is a fight where Lopez needs to be careful. We saw in the Mtgawa fight what happens when he underestimates his competition and allows these types of under-skilled and ultra-gritty battlers to become more effective than expected. He probably learned his lesson. “Juanma” has bigger things in store ahead, but look for him to perform impressively in front of his adoring fans.
Salido is unquestionably a tough campaigner, but 5 stoppage losses show he is not invulnerable. The Mexican fared well against a more boxing-oriented Gamboa, but this should be more of a firefight and it won’t be to his liking. Salido will be resolute, but there is only so much he will be able to take. After about 6 rounds of pounding, look for the referee to give Salido the hook.
Bet: Lay –140 on the “under.”
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