Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Best I’ve Faced: Orlando Salido


Orlando Salido is the embodiment of the hard-nosed Mexican warrior. He’s never had anything easy in life or inside the ring. The 22-year veteran has had to scrap for everything he’s ever accomplished in a career that, so far, has procured five world titles in two weight classes.

Salido was born in the northern Mexican state of Sonora in Ciudad Obregon on November 16, 1980. His early years were particularly tough.

“Growing up was very difficult for me,” Salido told through Ricardo Jimenez. “My family was very poor and when I was 13 years old, my father passed away. Then one day, I was away at school and came home to find out my mother was gone. She left to marry another guy and left without saying goodbye.

“I, along with my sister, was left in the care of my grandmother, who was very, very poor. We literally lived in a cardboard-style house on a dirt floor. Food was very hard to come by, so I had to steal from stores in the area, so me and my sister could eat. This was a very bad time in my life and I started hanging around the wrong people. A lot of these people were drug users but I did not ever use drugs. I needed a place to sleep and I crashed wherever I could.”

When Salido was around 10 years old, a friend introduced him to boxing. He visited the Nuevos Valores gym in his hometown. The facility was owned by Victor Barron, who over 25 years later is still his trainer. Initially, he knew nothing about boxing but was determined to work hard in an effort to make something of himself. When he had to fend for himself and family, boxing came to the forefront.

At just 15, Salido decided to turn pro.

“First, I turned pro for survival, so I could make money to feed myself,” admitted the now 36 year old. “I really had no idea what I was doing other than I would work out a little bit and if someone called, I would take a fight if I was in shape or not because I needed the money.”

“Siri” had 18 fights in the first four years of his career, all of which took place in Mexico. His record was a less than stellar 11-6-1 (7 knockouts).

However, when his long-time friend Fernando Rojo – the same person who introduced him to boxing – moved to the United States, he was offered an opportunity to also make the move.

“I did not have my papers,” he said. “So I had to pay to cross into the U.S. by a ‘coyote.’ Those are people who take you out through the desert to cross illegally. Thank goodness that was a long time ago and I am 100 percent legal now.”

He lived with his friend and another gentleman called Obando who worked in the business and helped make fights. Salido admits he became disenchanted with boxing and worked in construction. After a few months he felt the yearn to box again and when he was given another opportunity he promptly took it.

“I took my first fight in the U.S. versus William Abelyan and lost a six-round decision,” he said. “My second fight in the U.S. was when things started to turn for me and I started to believe I could do something in boxing. That fight was in Las Vegas back on May 18, 2001 and it was an eight-round draw vs. Mark Burse. At that time, I started to really train and prepare for fights like a pro.”

In late 2001, he upset former WBO 130-pound titlist Regilio Tuur and lost a disputed majority decision to another former world champion, Alejandro Gonzalez.

His big break came the following year when he was brought in as an opponent to face unbeaten Lamont Pearson on TV. The grizzled Mexican upset the IBF No. 1 contender by unanimous decision.

The next day Salido headed to Las Vegas and signed with Top Rank. Their union lasted nine fights, he won the first eight to earn a shot at the WBA/IBF featherweight belts held by Juan Manuel Marquez.

Although, Salido dropped a wide unanimous decision and parted with Top Rank soon afterwards it was a good learning curve. He met his now manager Sean Gibbons who promptly aligned him with Fernando Beltran of Zanfer Promotions.

In the fall of 2006, as chief support to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Carlos Baldomir, Salido beat Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision for the IBF 126-pound title. However, he tested positive for a steroid and the result was voided. To this day Salido is unsure of what happened.

“I have never in my career or life used any performance-enhancing drugs,” he stated. “Also, two days after the positive test came back from Quest Diagnostics, we went to another lab in California by the name of Lab Corp and the same test came back negative. So to this day, it still is a mystery to me.”

After returning he worked his way back to fight for the then vacant IBF crown, he met fellow Mexican, Cristobal Cruz, dropping a unanimous decision.

To his credit, much as he has had to in life, he showed incredible perseverance and in May 2010, beat Cruz to finally win the IBF featherweight strap that had so far eluded him.

In his very next outing he looked to unify with Yuriorkis Gamboa. Despite dropping the Cuban, he lost a seesaw contest.

In the spring of 2011, Salido headed to Puerto Rico to face Juan Manuel Lopez for the WBO featherweight laurels.

Most expected the burgeoning Puerto Rican star to continue his assent to the top of the sport. However, Salido, wasn’t particularly impressed by Lopez.

“Looking at the record of ‘JuanMa’ Lopez, I felt I was fighting the better competition of fighter and he was knocking out B-class fighters and that I had 11 losses but I have learned a lot from them and I knew if I got through the first few rounds, JuanMa was mine.” he explained.

With the fight poised, perfectly even on all three scorecards, Salido tore through Lopez stopping him in front of throngs of his fans in the eighth round.

Salido considers it to be the best win of his career: “It came against a undefeated boxer who was a big favorite in his hometown. That win took me to the next level.”

After one title defense and a near disastrous performance in a non-title bout the two were once again in unison, 11 months later for their eagerly anticipated rematch.

The second go around proved no different, again Salido touched down and despite being behind on points his indomitable spirit proved too much for Lopez, who cracked and fell apart in the 10th round.

His next big opportunity came 10 months later when he headed to New York to face another rising star, Mikey Garcia. After four rounds, Salido had yo-yo’d on and off the canvas four times but refused to stay down. He charged back and was giving Garcia problems before an accidental head clash broke Garcia’s nose and the fight was halted. The bout went to the scorecards and Garcia was well ahead on points, thus retained the title.

When Garcia decided to move up in weight, Salido was matched with Orlando Cruz to fill the vacancy on the undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez-Tim Bradley at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Salido showed little compassion bludgeoning another Puerto Rican to regain his old belt.

In early 2014, Salido took up the challenge of uber talented former two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko. The seasoned Mexican veteran lost the title on the scales but edged the Ukrainian by split decision.

He decided enough was enough and moved up to junior lightweight and fought for the WBO interim title while awaiting the opportunity to fight for the full championship. Salido met Thai warhorse Terdsak Kokietgym, in a thriller, both recovered from multiple knockdowns before Salido stopped the brave Thai fighter in the penultimate round.

His two fights in 2015 were instant classics. He lost a close decision to Rocky Martinez for the full WBO status and then gave the Puerto Rican all he could handle (and then some) only for the rematch be ruled a draw, despite most believing Salido deserved the decision.

Salido is 3-1-1 in world title fights with Puerto Ricans and is arguably the best placed active fighter to speak on the heated rivalry between the two countries.

“It’s always something special when Mexican and Puerto Ricans boxers get in the ring because of the great tradition of boxing in both countries,” he said. “Fans get very passionate about these fights and for me it’s a great honor to represent Mexico in these fights.

“You always go in there to win, but when you face a Puerto Rican there is more at stake than just a victory, there is pride and your country.”

Last June, Salido sought out another tough challenge and faced then WBC titlist Francisco Vargas. The two Mexican’s fought toe-to-toe for 12 outstanding rounds, again at the conclusion, the fight was rendered a draw. The fight was named Fight of the Year by THE RING magazine and BWAA.

On Saturday, Salido (43-13-4, 30 knockouts) will return from a near 12-month hiatus to face Aristides Perez (30-9-2, 16 KOs) in his hometown of Cuidad Obregon, on the Azteca network in Mexico and on BeIN Sports in America.

Salido had been linked with a fight with Takashi Miura last December, but that was cancelled to due injury. Since then there have been talks of a rematch with Lomachenko, which now appears likely for August, providing Salido is victorious on Saturday.

Salido has achieved a lot in his career but he considers the recognition to be worth more than the titles he won.

“I had some difficult times in my career and it took a long time for me to be recognized for what I’ve done,” he explained. “I am very proud to say that for first time in my life I am finally getting the credit that I earned in the ring and that makes this time in my life my proudest moment in boxing.”

Salido, is married and has four children. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Outside of boxing he owns some property in America and Mexico and also a children’s party business, where he rents out bouncy castles, all of which keeps him busy when he’s not in training.

“I am grateful to able to give my kids the opportunity to have a better life than I had,” he said proudly. “I know that they will be able to get a good education and do whatever they want with their life. I love being at home with them and spend as much time as I can. I like to do work around the house and work on my cars.”

He graciously agreed to speak to about the best he faced in 10 key categories.

Juan Manuel Marquez: He used it in so many ways, as a counter, to keep his rhythm and to start his offense. When I fought Juan Manuel Marquez I did not have the experience at the elite level. I would have liked to face him later in my career and see how I would have done against him as a world champion after facing some of the great boxers I did after I fought him.

Marquez: He was always one step ahead, he saw everything that was coming and kept me off balance.

Rocky Martinez: I landed some great shots in the second fight and he took them very well.

Vasyl Lomancheko: Just very quick with his punches.

Lomachenko: He moved very well in the ring.

Marquez: He knew what he wanted to do in the ring and executed it to perfection, (he was) just very smart in there.

Regilio Turr: He was just very strong physically in the ring, one of the few times I did not feel that I was the bigger and stronger man in the ring.

Mikey Garcia: He has very heavy hands, much stronger than I expected and he was very accurate

Marquez: He was just on top of his game when I fought him, great boxing, sound defense, smart and a great counter puncher.

Marquez: Marquez is the best fighter I have ever faced, a complete fighter with great boxing skills, sound aggressive offense, always ahead of me. He was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers. would like to thank Ricardo Jimenez and Sean Gibbons for helping co-ordinate and translate this interview.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at