Garcia Beats Salido for WBO Featherweight Crown
Lou Eisen / January 21, 2013 - 12:58am
In an outstanding display of fistic virtuosity, at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday night, Mikey Garcia won the WBO world featherweight title by completely dominating defending champion Orlando Salido in a one-sided, eight round brawl. Garcia won an eight round technical decision victory after the ring doctors agreed to stop the fight because of a broken nose suffered by Garcia due to an "accidental" head butt by Orlando Salido. At least that was the official ruling. The word "accidental" was a tough sell to many of those in attendance.
The fight was stopped on the advice of the ringside doctors and Garcia was awarded a well-deserved technical decision victory as they as they went to the scorecards to decide the outcome of the fight. Although this was not the way Garcia had hoped to ascend to the featherweight throne, it is still a win and his overall mastery of Salido is what should be remembered from this fight.
Garcia took control of the bout right from the outset by managing to drop Salido twice in the opening round with a lethal three-punch combination. Garcia has tremendous power in his shots, which is greatly accentuated by very quick hands and excellent balance. It is the punches you don't see that knock you down or get you out of there. From the first knockdown on, Salido looked to be very disoriented in the ring. In fact, even before the first knockdown in the opening round, Saldio was unable to get comfortable in the squared circle. He seemed incapable of finding his balance or getting his shots off with any power behind them. Was it nerves? Was it age?
It could have been both or maybe he just met his match in a much younger, stronger and faster fighter. However you want to look at it, one thing is certain. Garcia owned Salido from the outset and the difference in ability and talent was extremely wide in favor of Garcia.
Garcia took Salido, perhaps the toughest pound for pound fighter in all of boxing, to hell and back, as he tagged him relentlessly with huge, teeth-rattling power shots through out the fight. Garcia executed his fight plan to perfection during the fight. Most observers, including this scribe, thought that based on his past wars with Juan Manuel Lopez aka Juanma, Salido would have waged a tougher, more brutal and more savage defense of his world title. Garcia did not allow that to happen.
Garcia's strategy, which worked very well, was to beat up Salido on the outside and then smother him when he tried to bring the fight to the inside or to the ropes. It is one thing to devise a successful fight strategy. However, such a strategy is worthless, unless you have the talent to make it happen. Garcia has that talent and more, as he exhibited brilliantly against a game bout thoroughly outgunned Salido. Salido started to let his hands go in the later rounds but it was all for naught as his punches were off target and easily avoided by his younger, swifter opponent. In the early rounds Salido was afraid to let his hands go more often because Garcia's counter punching was so accurate and effective.
As the fight wore on into rounds 6, 7 and 8, Salido began to use his elbows to whack Garcia whenever he came within punching range. Salido was a desperate fighter by that stage in the fight. Salido suffered four knockdowns within the first four rounds. He stood no chance to win the fight on points. He was already too far behind on the scorecards. His attitude changed from one of grim determination to an attitude of anything goes.
It is interesting to note that when both fighters' entered the ring, Garcia looked to be in better shape physically and mentally. It was evident to all those in attendance and watching at home that Garcia had warmed up well in his dressing room as his body was glistening with sweat. Salido on the other hand, was very dry and looked to be out of sorts and quite uncomfortable with his immediate environment. He wore a look of defeat even before the fight had actually commenced!
The look of confidence so easily displayed by world champions was only visible on the face of the challenger, Mikey Garcia. Once the bell sounded to start the opening round of the fight, the reason for Garcia's brimming confidence was apparent to everyone.
Garcia had studied Salido for hours on end, looking for various flaws in the champion's armor. Garcia knew coming into the fight that Salido always tipped off his attack by ducking his left shoulder slightly forward when he was about to switch to offense. Garcia used that to his advantage by taking a step backward and catching Salido coming in with a short, powerful three punch combination consisting of a left jab, right hook, left hook salvo that did damage every time it landed. It was this combo that dropped Salido to the mat twice in the opening round. Garcia's accuracy was stunning. Salido simply had no defense to speak of and ended up eating a lot of leather courtesy of Garcia's hand speed and power.
Salido seemed out of sorts entering the ring, and suffering four knockdowns early on certainly did not help his demeanor or physical orientation. Salido appeared flat from the get-go and had very little to offer up in defense of his own crown. Some commentators after the fight foolishly criticized Garcia for excessive clinching. It was Salido who was doing most of the clinching, every time Garcia rung his bell with a stiff shot, which was early and often.
Salido has a tendency to head butt. Garcia knew that and was wisely instructed by his brother Robert to smother Salido in the clinches, thereby never allowing him to use his head as a weapon. Of course, the fight was stopped in the eighth round after a supposedly accidental head butt by Salido broke Garcia's nose. Although the butt was ruled accidental and Garcia's corner magnanimously agreed with the call, it was in fact, an intentional head butt. HBO analyst Max Kellerman, never one to shy away from the truth, called it intentional immediately after it happened. Salido began to foul Garcia with regularity the more his chances of victory began to dim.
After scoring two hard fought and spectacular KO victories over Jaunma last year, Salido looked like a rank amateur versus Mikey Garcia in the Madison Square Garden ring. This was a fight that most observers thought would at least go the distance, given the champions' stubborn nature and ability to succeed in protracted wars of attrition. For all of Salido's vaunted staying power, toughness and grit displayed in past victories, he came within one knockdown of suffering a first round knockout. It was thought that Garcia's power would eventually get to Salido later in the fight. However, in the first round, after a brief exchange, Salido went crashing to the canvas courtesy of a Garcia combination.
This was no flash knockdown. Salido got up and was clearly hurt and on shaky legs. Garcia showed perhaps too much respect for Salido. He refused to rush in immediately on the hurt champion, possibly fearing a lucky shot from Salido might catch him and send him to the canvas as well. He need not worry. Garcia continued to outbox Salido at a furious pace. As ugly red welts started to rise on the champion's increasingly battered face, another combination dropped Salido to the mat for the second time in the opening stanza. Madison Square Garden audience was in bedlam! This fight was not supposed to happen this way. Garcia was easily destroying the champion, who had virtually nothing to offer on offense or defense.
Salido claimed the second knockdown he suffered in round one was partially a slip. Now, in his defense, there was a soft and slippery spot on the canvas that officials had tried to repair prior to the main event. However, they obviously did not do a very good job of it. Yes, Salido did slip but only because he was caught by a hard shot on the head from Garcia. Salido took a count to catch his breath before rising. To his credit, as Garcia rushed in for the kill, Salido managed to hang on for the remainder of the first round. Garcia had won the first round on all three judges scorecards by a margin of 10-7. At that moment, any chance Salido may have had eking out a points win over Garcia was irrevocably gone.
Unfortunately for Salido, the news just got worse as the fight wore on. Garcia was able to exert total control over Salido with his left jab. Garcia's jab was fast, accurate and jolting, snapping back the champion's head repeatedly in each round. Garcia went to work on Salido's eyes and his efforts were paying off as Salido was starting to swell around both eyes early in the fight. Garcia followed up each jab with punishing three, four and five punch combos right on the button. No fighter can take that kind of sustained pounding for an entire fight. Needless to say, Salido was staggered in each round of the fight. The fact that Salido managed to keep going was truly remarkable.
Salido stuck to his age-old game plan of rushing in face first against his taller and younger foe. Salido did not vary his offensive plan during the fight and thus, became an easy target for Garcia. Rather than cut off the ring by moving to his side, as his corner begged him to do in between rounds, Salido opted to chase Garcia in a straight line, making Garcia's job that much easier to accomplish. Against Juanma, Salido displayed a lot of head movement, which was completely absent against Garcia. Garcia never had to look for Salido.
Salido was able to turn Juanma at will, never allowing him to properly set himself to get his power shots off. Salido had no such luck with Garcia as the challenger managed to keep the fight in center ring and control Salido with his jab. Whenever Salido did manage to bully Garcia up against the ropes on the rare occasion, Garcia smartly held Salido tightly, not wanting to allow the champion enough wiggle room to head butt him.
Garcia sent Salido to the canvas twice more in the fight, in the third and fourth rounds respectively. After each knockdown, Garcia took his time and systematically broke Salido down punch-by-punch, round by round. It was all Garcia in rounds three, four and five, as he battered Salido from pillar to post with a blistering two-fisted attack. Salido did manage to get in some good shots now and then but Garcia capably weathered those shots, with the help of a solid chin and perfect balance. Whenever Salido opened up he paid for his daring, as Garcia retaliated with vicious body shots, concentrating especially on his brutal left hook to the liver, which made Salido's body sag each time it landed.
Salido's hesitancy to let his hands go at time is understandable given the thorough thrashing he was receiving from his youthful, hungry foe. Also, suffering 4 knockdowns at the hands of your opponent will dampen a fighter's enthusiasm too.
Garcia's counterpunching was nothing short of brilliant against Salido. He made Salido pay dearly for every punch he missed. In short, Garcia issued Salido a one-sided ass-kicking which will not soon be forgotten. Today, one day after the fight, Salido ridiculously claimed that Garcia's corner urged the doctor to stop the fight because he was coming on and they were afraid that their man might lose the fight. Laughable comments like these would suggest that Salido got hit a lot harder than was readily apparent to all those that saw the fight.
Salido said that he also suffered a broken nose but fought on. Maybe so but his nose, if broken, came from a punch. Garcia's nose was the result of a deliberate head butt. The difference of course is that Garcia only suffered a broken nose, whereas Salido also suffered delusions of grandeur.