Salido was a 30-year-old former titleholder who was coming off of his 11th career loss, a setback by unanimous decision to current WBA interim 130-pound beltholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa in September of 2010.
A man who went 8-6-1 and was knocked out five times over the course of his first 15 fights, Salido was challenging Lopez before his hometown crowd at Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
But that didn’t stop Salido from scoring an eighth-round knockout after having dropped Lopez in the fifth, not to mention rising from a fifth-round knockdown to stop Lopez in the 10th-round of their rematch in March of last year.
The losses foiled Lopez’s plans of facing Gamboa in a blockbuster fight, and are among Salido’s five consecutive stoppage victories.
Salido (39-11-2, 27 knockouts) finds himself in similar position heading into Saturday night’s defense at The Theatre at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
In the other corner will be Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs), a 25-year-old resident of Oxnard who is after his ninth straight knockout win.
Garcia, like Lopez, is promoted by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. And like Lopez, Garcia is the focus of Arum’s big plans should he get beyond Salido.
“One of the best things about Bob Arum is that we have a promoter who is very optimistic. The last few days, he’s been talking about Mikey’s plans. He’s forgotten that JuanMa Lopez was 30-0 with 27 knockouts when we ruined his plans that night,” said Fernando Beltran, Salido’s promoter, during a Thursday press conference at MSG.
“Honestly, we are making our own plans to win on Saturday night, and we are going to keep our plans. We’re going to see who is going to fight Salido next. We will respect Mikey after this fight, and we know that he is a special fighter…After the fight, we’re looking forward to the announcer saying, ‘And still, WBO featherweight champion of the world.'”
ROBERT GARCIA: ‘MY BROTHER WILL NEVER FIGHT NONITO’
Garcia was last at The Garden in October of 2011, when he stopped Juan Carlos Martinez in the fourth round.
Garcia is trained by his father, Eduardo, and his brother, Robert, who also works with Brandon Rios, Kelly Pavlik and Nonito Donaire, the latter of whom is THE RING’s junior featherweight titleholder.
During an open media workout at the Kingsway Gym, Robert Garcia was asked if his brother would ever fight Donaire, particularly if he got beyond Salido.
“That’s something that we will never see. They both fight for the same manager [Cameron Dunkin.] I’m with both of them, so that’s a fight that will never happen. They both have their own careers, and they’re both going to be great. Nonito is already great at what he does. They never have to meet. Nonito has so many fights in his future, and Mikey’s the same way,” said Robert Garcia.
“It’s something that will never happen. Now that I’ve been working with Nonito for so many hears, and Mikey’s my brother, for whatever the reason, even if I wasn’t working with Nonito, I would never want to see that fight. I love Nonito. I love his family. He’s got great people around him and we’re really close friends, so we would never want to see that fight. So, no, I don’t see that happening.”
GENADDY GOLOVKIN LOOKS TO A FUTURE AS A SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT
The Salido-Garcia undercard features rising junior middleweight Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13 KOs) opposite Kazakhstan-born WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21 KOS), who is in pursuit of his 12th consecutive knockout win.
Golovkin hopes that his future could include RING middleweight titleholder Sergio Martinez, or a rise into the super middleweight ranks, where he could pursue a clash with RING, WBA and WBC 168-pound champion Andre Ward
“What we’re working to evolve and to improve to the point where one of these days, maybe early next year, we’re fighting a Ward or a Martinez or something like that,” said Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez. “We want to continue to evolve and to get better as a fighter for those reasons.”
Golovkin’s training at altitude in Big Bear Lake, Calif., included sparring sessions with cruiserweight prospect Isa Akberbayev (10-0, 7 KOs) and Tony Harrison (11-0, 8 KOs),
Akberbayev will pursue his sixth straight knockout against Anthony Ferrante (12-4, 7 KOs) on Saturday’s undercard, and Harrison, a former protege of the late Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward, will face an opponent to be determined.
ROCKY MARTINEZ FACES JUAN CARLOS BURGOS
The opening bout of Saturday’s televised triple-headers has Puerto Rican Roman “Rocky” Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) defending his WBO junior lightweight belt against Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) of Mexico.
“Our fight is a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican rivalry,” said Burgos, “and our styles are perfect for each one another. Not only will we steal the show, but I’ll take the belt.”
In other bouts on the card, Canadian welterweight Mikael Zewski (17-0, 13 KOs) will meet Brandon Hoskins (16-3-1, 8 KOs), of Hannibal, Mo., junior middleweight Glen Tapia (16-0, 9 KOs), of Passaic, N.J., takes on Ayi Bruce (14-8, 8 KOs), of Albany, N.Y., and light heavyweight Sean Monaghan (16-0, 10 KOs), of Long Beach, N.Y., faces Roger Cantrell (15-2, 8 KOs), of Puyallup, Wa.
In other fights, super middleweight Ronald Ellis (6-0, 5 KOs), of Miami, faces Steven Tyner (3-9-2, 2 KOs), of Akron, Oh., and recent Top Rank signee Felix Verdejo will pursue his second junior lightweight victory against Tomi Archambault (1-3, 1 KO) on the Salido-Garcia undercard
A 19-year-old who has also sparred with Martinez, Verdejo debuted with December’s four-round unanimous decision over Leonardo Chavez, who had knocked out his only previous opponent.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]