De La Hoya goes with Salido-Roman’s Savage Science over Loma-Rigo’s Sweet Science
LAS VEGAS – The attention of the boxing world will be on the junior lightweight division tonight.
In New York City, Vasyl Lomachenko will attempt to defend his WBO 130-pound title against junior featherweight king Guillermo Rigondeaux in a showdown of pound-for-pound rated boxing masters at The Theater inside Madison Square Garden.
In Las Vegas, Orlando Salido, the only man to defeat Lomachenko in the pro ranks, faces fellow Mexican veteran Miguel “Mickey” Roman in a non-title headliner at Mandalay Bay. Salido-Roman is supported by an IBF junior lightweight title clash between Tevin Farmer and Kenichi Ogawa, and a scheduled 10-rounder between former WBC 130-pound beltholder Francisco Vargas and English standout Stephen Smith.
Lomachenko-Rigondeaux will undoubtedly showcase the finer points of the Sweet Science to those who tune into the ESPN broadcast.
The tripleheader topped by Salido-Roman is guaranteed to be a bloody celebration of the Savage Science for all who watch it on HBO.
Oscar De La Hoya, the CEO and founder of Golden Boy Promotions, knows which fight he’s going to be ringside for, and it ain’t the one with his fellow Olympic gold medalists.
De La Hoya is admittedly biased. His company has a strong relationship with HBO and Vargas is a Golden Boy fighter. However, he says he’s not hating on the show featuring the savvy southpaws, which is presented by his old promoter Bob Arum. De La Hoya respects their skill but he knows which card is going to deliver the action.
“I appreciate Lomachenko and I appreciate Rigondeaux,” the 1992 Olympic gold medalist told RingTV.com on Thursday. “I know first-hand how special and how hard it is to win an Olympic gold medal. It’s a big deal, and the fact that you have two two-time gold medalists facing each other has made for a lot of anticipation.
“But that anticipation, I believe, is for what the fight represents on paper. In reality, it’s a chess match. It might be interesting, it might not be. That’s just the reality of that matchup. It’s no secret that Rigondeaux is the most boring elite fighter to watch in all of boxing right now.
“With the HBO tripleheader you’ve got great action with all three bouts. You’ve got guys like Bandito, Siri and Mickey who are never in a bad fight. Most of the time when you see these guys in the ring, you’re watching the Fight of the Year, so I have no problem telling boxing fans that’s the card I’m going to watch. I’m going to be ringside in Las Vegas.
“No disrespect to ‘Rigo’ or to ‘Loma.’ Expectations are high for that fight and may the best man win.”
De La Hoya says he’s looking forward to the Vargas-Smith fight the most, in part, because he’s not sure what to expect from his fighter after back-to-back Fights of the Year (vs. Takashi Miura in 2015 and vs. Salido in 2016) and a Fight-of-the-Year candidate title loss to Miguel Berchelt in January, as well as surgery on his brows to improve his susceptibility to cuts.
“I’m interested in how Vargas comes back,” De La Hoya said. “I want to see how he reacts to a game opponent and how his old cuts hold up. I think he can rebound from the loss to Berchelt. I know fights like that one and the wars with Salido and Miura take a toll on your body, but he’s had some good rest. I think he treats his body well, so he should be strong and sharp (against Smith), but it won’t be easy.
“What I like about Vargas-Smith and the other two bouts on the HBO broadcast is that the winners and the losers of the bouts can fight each other and make for more great fights. And don’t forget that Berchelt is still in the picture.”
SALIDO-ROMAN WEIGH-IN/PRESSER NOTES
All the fighters involved in the three HBO-televised bouts made weight Friday afternoon, but Salido (44-13, 31 knockouts) took a little bit longer than the others. The 21-year veteran weighed in at 132 pounds
and then 131.5 pounds after stripping naked. Twenty minutes later Salido made the contracted 131 pounds (butt naked) in the media center.
He’s had countless battles in the ring, but also a few with the scale. However, no matter how much he struggled to make weight, “Siri” always gave 100% in the ring. He’s a slight betting favorite to defeat Roman (57-12, 44 KOs), who, at 32, is five years younger, but has more pro bouts and equal number of pro rounds (426) under his belt.
“The name Salido is synonymous with ‘warrior,’ ‘guts,’ and everything good about boxing,” Juan Carlos Torres, of Zanfer Promotions, said at Thursday’s final press conference.
“He’s been in so many Fight of the Year candidates I can’t remember them all.”
In just the past six years, Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez I and II, Weng Haya, Lomachenko, Terdsak Jandaeng, Roman Martinez I and II and Vargas were all either considered the Fight of the Year or a Fight-of-the-Year candidate.
What does Salido have left after all these years and all those battles? Whatever’s got left, he’s going to give it against Roman.
“He comes to fight,” Salido said of Roman, who’s been in his share of Fight-of-the-Year candidates. “I come to fight. You’re gonna see a great fight.”
However, Farmer vs. Ogawa might steal the show.
Both fighters are late-comers to the sport who possess unyielding self-belief. Farmer (25-4, 5 KOs), of Philadelphia, has had overcome a lot of adversity to make it to tonight’s world title opportunity, including a rough start to his pro career. Alex Dombroff, of DiBella Entertainment, which promotes Farmer, says the Philly fighter was unfairly discounted for years because of the four losses he incurred early in his career.
“Is there anyone who doesn’t think (Salido-Roman) is an awesome fight?” Dombroff asked while at the podium during final presser. “Saldio has 13 losses, Roman has 12 losses. Tevin Farmer was written off when his record was 7-4-1, just because of the losses. It’s unfortunate that people think this way because the sport is made by fighters who took their lumps early in their careers like Salido, Roman and Farmer.
“Even when he was fighting on club shows, Tevin always told me ‘I’m a million-dollar fighter, I’m a world-champion fighter.’”
Now he’s got a chance to prove it.
“This is a big night for me,” Farmer said at the podium. “I’ve been written off for years, but I never cried, never complained. I knew I had to earn it. I had only 16 amateur bouts, started boxing when I was 19, but nothing was going to stop me, not tearing my biceps, not getting shot in my hand, and I know I’m going to have to earn it, I know he’s coming to win, too.”
Ogawa (22-1, 17 KOs), of Tokyo, is not just coming to win. He’s coming to win by knockout. The son of a prominent Kenpo Karate dojo master, is bringing a kill-or-be-killed mentality to his first fight outside of Japan.
“I’m going to win by KO,” Ogawa told RingTV.com through translator Nobu Ikushima of Teiken Boxing, which promotes the 29-year-old fighter.
When asked if he was familiar with Farmer’s style, Ogawa, who competed in karate until the age of 22, when he switched to boxing, flatly replied:
“He doesn’t have a style I need to study, and even if he did, it’s not one that I have to change my style to defeat. I’m going to put pressure on him and pound him from the opening bell and I’m going to break him down. It will not go the distance. I am 100% confident that I will stop him.”
Ogawa, a married father of three who works part-time at a television production company, says he had the best training camp of his career. The majority of his sparring was with former featherweight and 130-pound titleholder Takahiro Ao.
Although Ogawa looked ripped and noticeably taller than Farmer at the weigh-in, he had no trouble making 130 pounds, according to Ikushima, who said he’s been eating pasta and steak all week.
“He doesn’t like vegetables,” Ikushima said.
He also doesn’t like to win by decision.
Ogawa’s corner will be worked by head trainer Sendai Tanaka and veteran cornerman Rudy Hernandez, who trained Roman for the Salido headliner.
Stephen Smith (25-3, 15 KOs), a 32-year-old native of Liverpool who came up short in two title shots (vs. Jason Sosa and Jose Pedraza) in 2016, is only the second Liverpudlian to fight in Las Vegas, according to his trainer Joe Gallagher.
The first “Scouser” to fight in Sin City was former WBC light heavyweight champ John Conteh, who stopped Terry Daniels at the Convention Center in 1973, the year before he won the title.