By Jake Donovan
The only regret Orlando Salido had when seeing Mikey Garcia lose his featherweight title on the scales this past June, was not having the opportunity to regain the title against the man who dethroned him.
He gets the next best thing, a shot at the vacant belt as he faces Puerto Rico’s Orlando Cruz in their co-feature attraction Saturday evening at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The main event pits Tim Bradley versus Juan Manuel Marquez in a welterweight title fight, which tops a four-fight pay-per-view card.
Salido has endured an alarming number of peaks and valleys in his career to forge out two separate title reigns. His first tour as a featherweight titlist was one and done, conceding the belt to Yuriorkis Gamboa mere months after claiming the strap.
A stoppage win over then-unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez breathed new life into Salido’s career, scoring a major upset to win another belt in their April ’11 encounter. A near two-year reign followed, including a repeat stoppage over Lopez in their rematch last March. The victory tour came to an end earlier this year, when Garcia soundly outboxed him in their abbreviated bout this past January.
Cruz enters the fight having won four straight, though none anywhere near on the level of Salido. Still, the Puerto Rican boxer is brimming with confidence, looking to make history on several levels. A win tonight makes him the third boxer from the 2000 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing squad to claim a major title, giving that team more champions than any other in the island’s history as he would join former champs and teammates Miguel Cotto (who will be at ringside tonight) and Ivan Calderon.
More famously, Cruz would also become the first openly gay boxer to own a significant belt, on a weekend celebrating the one-year anniversary of his bravely coming out.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s co-feature bout will go down.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – ORLANDO SALIDO vs. ORLANDO CRUZ
“Salido by unanimous decision.”
- Damien Acevedo (Salido UD)
"I think Orlando Salido will be way too much for Orlando Cruz. Salido is definitely shopworn and has seen better days but Cruz doesn't have a defining victory that suggests he can beat a fighter the calibrer of Salido. The weight may be an issue for Salido as he has been talking about making the move up to 130 pounds but I see Salido stopping Cruz around the 9th round."
- Ryan Burton (Salido TKO9)
“I want to believe in Cruz, who looks to make history in more ways than one. There’s no question that he’s boxing with far more confidence ever since “coming out” last year, but none of his opponents were designed to beat him or even challenge him. Salido looked long in the tooth versus Garcia but was ready to ride out the storm before the bout’s abrupt ending. My guess is he jumps on the Puerto Rican boxer early, imposes his will and eventually forces a stoppage midway through.”
- Jake Donovan (Salido TKO6)
“Salido is certainly the best 12-loss fighter in the world today and among the best in the generations that have passed since guys with that many losses retained relevance. He's matched with a better story here - and Cruz deserves props that go far beyond the boxing ring - but he's got far more street cred on the world-class level. I think Salido does what he does and walks away with a decisive 12-round win.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Salido UD)
“Orlando has seen better days I think we all know that and while he looked horribly pedestrian against Mikey Garcia, it's hard not to against the sharp shooting brother of famed trainer Robert Garcia. Salido is exactly what Cruz should be wary of, a grind them out style puncher who can take a punch in orde to deliver is hard shots. I think he does exactly that and wins in the late rounds when Cruz simply can no longer take the grueling punishment.”
- Ernest Gabion (Salido TKO9)
“Cruz has appeared to improve since consecutive losses and Salido has seen a lot of hard rounds in his time. Salido has always been a little hot and cold and the Olympic pedigree of Cruz could help him through rough waters. I like an energized Cruz to outhustle the former titlist down the stretch.”
- Cliff Rold (Cruz Dec)
“Salido may have been dominated in his last outing when he lost his title to Mikey Garcia but he'll recuperate his title and his winning ways as he stops Cruz in the middle to late rounds. Salido won't have to worry about heavy hands on Cruz and will use his usually pressure attack to wear his opponent down. Cruz will be overwhelmed and eventually succumb to an accumulation of damage.”
- Luis Sandoval (Salido TKO)
"No disrespect for the Puerto-Rican but aside his recent off-the-ring claims and coming out he is quite an ordinary fighter. A solid boxer with good fundamentals but he is not an elite fighter, and his wins over Leonilo Miranda (an overhyped fighter with the padded record) and Michael Franco don't make him one. And his recent opposition don't make him one either. Salido is a world-class, who can both slug and box. He will lose several rounds over Cruz, boxing circles around him, but his pressure will pay off in the second half of the fight and he will stop his namesake later on.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Salido TKO9)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox