Garcia Faces Stern Test Against Salido
Lou Eisen / January 18, 2013 - 2:35pm
This coming Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the venerable old Mecca of boxing, a capacity audience full of rabid fight fans will be getting their fill and then some of elite championship boxing action. Their collective boxing appetites will be sated and then some as HBO's stellar "Boxing After Dark" promises a potentially explosive show that will keep those fans on the edge of their seats all night long.
The number one ranked featherweight in the world Mikey Garcia (W30, KO26), the hungry young lion of the division, will challenge veteran WBO world champion Orlando "Siri" Salido (W39, KO27, L11, D2) for his belt. Salido is the type of fighter that absolutely refuses to concede even an inch of territory in the ring, which is why he is one of the toughest champions in the sport today.
In fact, Salido's mindset reflects his resolute determination to hang on to his very hard won laurels. He simply refuses to give up a title he spent many years trying to attain. To give you an idea of how confident Salido is of victory, he has stated on more than one occasions that any man wanting to take his title had better be prepared to give up his life in the process. That is the level of commitment a challenger will need to bring the champion down.
This promises to be a great fight and, although we are still mired in January, this is most definitely a possible Fight of the Year candidate. This fight could very well turn into a war early on which means the winner will be decided by who is in better condition to go 12 hard, toe-to-toe rounds at full speed. Suffice to say, Garcia will engage Salido when necessary but he would rather avoid a war of attrition if at all possible,
Garcia is trained by his brother Robert, a former world champion and universally recognized as the best trainer in the sport today. In fact, he was just named as the Trainer of the Year by Ring Magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Along with co-trainer Eduardo Garcia (yes they are all related), Team Garcia is a very formidable entity to face in the ring.
Garcia is a past graduate of the ferocious boxing gyms of Oxnard, California. In Oxnard, they eat young fighters for breakfast. You earn respect from the community of fighters that train there simply by holding your own and making it through the day. This applies to young and established fighters alike. Kelly Pavlik recently moved there to train with Robert Garcia in the hope of kick-starting his flagging career. Garcia works at the same gym as Nonito Donaire, Bam Bam Rios, Zahir Raheem, Steve Luevano, Rolando Reyes and many other world class pugilists. They spend each day training and trying to remove each other's heads from their respective bodies with their fists. It is not a place for the faint of heart.
Garcia is a recent graduate of the Ventura County Police Academy and is hoping to join the rest of his famed stable mates in the world champion's circle. Garcia is managed by Cameron Dunkin, one of the top managers in all of boxing today. Garcia has never been a protected fighter in any way, shape or form. He has been brought along smartly and has improved greatly with each fight, never making the same mistake twice. He has in the process honed his skills to perfection. He is without a doubt primed and ready for his shot at glory. Garcia's ledger is filled with top-ranked, ultra tough and highly skilled fighters, all of whom he has beaten and at the same time, learned from. Much thought has been given to his career arc. Right from the beginning Team Garcia mapped out a clear path to a title fight. Garcia has 30 pro fights against ranked fighters under his belt. He is in shape mentally as well as physically, and he is ready to go to war with Orlando Salido for twelve straight rounds, if necessary.
In Salido, Garcia will be facing a champion that is, in a word, indomitable. Salido is a force of nature. He sucks up everything his opponents throw at him, spits it out with a sneer, and then overwhelms them like a never-ending hurricane of leather-clad fists. Salido is still a hungry fighter who feels, and justifiably so, that he has never received the proper credit he deserves for the skill level he possesses. Salido's background contains some of the most hard luck tales in all of boxing.
Salido may be the most snake-bitten fighter in recent boxing history. In order to get quality fights early on in his career, Salido was forced to always fight in his foe's backyard. He has 11 losses in his career but 5 of those losses were verifiable hometown decisions that went against him in fights that he won by a wide margin.
Those setbacks embittered Salido to the extent that he no longer considers or respects the decisions of any judges scoring his fights. In his heart of hearts, his only option is a knockout victory. He has one thought always uppermost in his mind, which is to preserve, protect and defend his beloved WBO world featherweight title. Make no mistake about Salido's intent and attitude in the squared circle. He is literally determined to make any and all challengers for his title pay with their lives to achieve victory. So far, no one has been willing to pay that steep a price for his belt.
A fighter of Salido's ilk, robbed, cheated and thieved throughout his career, does not surrender a world title easily. Salido views Garcia as a man who is telling him that he has no right to eat, own a house, or feed his kids. That is the mindset that Salido takes into the ring. Salido perceived the mere fact that Garcia even dared to challenge him for his title is a personal attack on his family. That is a common mindset for many defending world champions. The other thing to remember is that Salido has the power, skills, stamina and ring smarts to back up his mindset. He is a very gifted fighter who has tremendous eyesight in the ring. He sees every minute mistake his opponents make and is ready to instantly pounce on those mistakes.
Salido takes nothing for granted in the ring and has not for a long time desired to leave the outcome of his fights in the hands of crooked judges. Considered how bad and corrupt judging had become these days in boxing, that is a very wise decision on the part of Salido.
In 2010, Salido made his lifelong dream a reality by defeating Cristobal Cruz in Mexico City to capture the IBF world featherweight title by a unanimous decision. This gallant, never say die warrior finally got his title win, ironically on points.
The other thing that stands out about Salido is that he has never faced a second rate fighter. He has always fought the best fighters in his weight division in the world. Thus his very first title defense came against the Cuban wunderkind, Yuriorkis Gamboa. Salido lost a very close unanimous decision as well as his IBF world featherweight title to Gamboa. Salido was offered another title shot immediately after his loss to Gamboa.
His second shot at a world title came against the most feared puncher, pound for pound, in the world, Juan Manuel Lopez, aka Juanma. In what was considered to be one of the most stunning upsets in over a decade of boxing, the veteran Salido managed to overcome the Puerto Rican superstar and power puncher in his native Puerto Rico, scoring an eighth round knockout to capture outright the WBO world featherweight title in April of 2011. Perhaps even more remarkable is that Salido repeated the feat almost a year later by knocking out Juanma in 10 rounds. Twice within 10 months, Salido had traveled to Juanma's home in Puerto Rico and beat the stuffing out of him.
Salido does have skills. He is more than just a go for broke power puncher. He is adept at turning his opponents constantly, never allowing them to ever set themselves properly long enough to get any power shots off. This is one of the tactics he used to beat Juanma. He kept turning Juanma, which kept his younger opponent in a constant state of confusion. Boxing fans can rest assured that Garcia has a well thought-out definite game plan in place with a plan B and even a plan C in place if necessary, as well.
Garcia has very fast hands and throws everything off of his jab. He throws his shots in combinations and he possesses one of the highest accuracy rates in the sport. This means that he does not waste his punches and he does not throw wide, looping or off balance punches. He is very well-schooled technically and he has above average power in both hands although his best shot is his counter right hand. Garcia will be looking to time Salido's jab and nail him with a quick, hard, overhand right thrown from a short distance.
Garcia is deceptive because he has outstanding reach for a featherweight. Even when he is seemingly at a distance from his foe, he is actually within range to land his shots. He likes to use Jersey Joe Walcott's old "Walkaway" maneuver in the ring whenever possible. Garcia will appear to be walking out of range of his foe when he will casually stop and throw a long, overhand right, flush on the chin. He puts his full weight on that shot and Salido better be prepared for such tactics lest he get dropped by a quick, sneaky right hand shot.
Salido will look to get inside Garcia's reach and bang away at his body furiously for the first five or six rounds in order to slow down his younger and faster foe. He will also chop away at Garcia's chin whenever the opportunity arises. Salido is a deadly counter puncher too and if Garcia makes the mistake of admiring his punches, he will be on the canvas before he knows what hit him.
Garcia is a very smart fighter. He will try to keep the fight at a distance for as long as possible. He will constantly be looking to create different punching angles in order to never allow Salido to get comfortable and, more importantly to never allow Salido to get set to let his heavy hands do any damage. Garcia will occasionally step in and trade with Salido but not too often because by doing so he is surrendering his reach advantage.
Salido is by far the best fighter that Garcia has ever faced. Salido has already faced the best featherweights in the world and beaten them decisively. For Salido, Garcia is just another notch on his belt. Garcia tends to come on strong later on in fights but so does Salido. For Garcia, this is the chance he has been working towards his entire professional career. He wants that title something fierce. This should be a great fight. Look for Garcia to pull out a points win by split decision.