By Jake Donovan
The highly anticipated rematch to what Boxingscene.com voted as 2011 Upset of the Year is set for Saturday evening, as Orlando Salido once again travels to Puerto Rico to face Juan Manuel Lopez. Their bout headlines an 11-fight show at Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico and serves as the main event of a televised doubleheader (Showtime, Saturday 10:00PM ET/PT).
Salido (37-11-2, 25KO) stunned the boxing world with an eighth round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Lopez. The feat netted him a featherweight belt as well as the biggest win of a hard-luck career now 16 years deep and still going strong.
The Mexican veteran has twice successfully defended the featherweight belt he acquired that evening, though suffering a scare in his latest bout. Fringe contender Weng Heya was brought in as a perceived safe choice for a hometown showcase, but proved to be anything but that early on, scoring two knockdowns before Salido rallied to stop him in the eighth round.
Lopez (31-1, 28KO) has fought just once since the upset loss, overcoming a sluggish start to stop Mike Oliver in the second round, scoring three knockdowns in their featherweight bout last October.
The hard-hitting southpaw – who proudly served on the 2004 Puerto Rico Olympic boxing squad – is a former two-division titlist and is favored to resume his championship ways on Saturday night. It will still require his overcoming the physical and psychological challenge of conquering the only fighter to make him taste defeat in the pro ranks thus far.
While Lopez is the betting favorite, the general public is divided in who will come out on top this weekend. The same can be said of the Boxingscene.com staff, as evidenced by the predictions provided below.
PREDICTIONS – SALIDO-LOPEZ II
“JuanMa should come in a lot more motivated and focused this time. With the ref and one judge being his countrymen, my brain says to take Lopez by UD but rewatching his last fight, he appears to have the same defensive flaws and his chin may be cracked. Salido may not be the same either after looking horrible in his last fight but I have him by TKO between 7-9 rounds in another terrific war.”
– Ryan Burton (Salido)
“I believe the difference is what JuanMa stands to lose if Salido defeats him again. His desire to become an elite-level fighter would forever be put on hold. I think this will give JuanMa the motivation to pull out a hard-earned victory against Salido. Juanma by UD but I don’t expect it to be pretty.”
- James Creed (Lopez)
“The bad news for Salido is that everything about the rematch suggests a stacked deck against him. The good news is that his demeanor suggests he knows what’s up. Look for the veteran to overcome a sluggish start to eventually overwhelm Lopez and force a stoppage before the championship rounds.”
– Jake Donovan (Salido)
“JuanMa TKO8. I think Siri is on the wrong side of his prime and JuanMa is taking this fight seriously enough to where we see an exciting fight but with JuanMa inflicting more of the damage this time.”
– Ernest Gabion (Lopez)
“Lopez will return more focused and more ready for the challenge Salido presents. Salido, however, might just have Lopez's number. I expect the numbers to line up in Salido's favor, with him leaving Puerto Rico the victor by unanimous decision.”
- David P. Greisman (Salido)
“Salido has the type of two-fisted power to change the momentum of the fight with one shot and Lopez hasn't always displayed the best chin. However, I think Lopez gets his title back because he's in a lot better shape and also because I wonder if Salido - almost down and out against Weng Haya - can still sustain 12 rounds of pressure necessary to win on the road.”
– Ryan Maquinana (Lopez)
“At the moment I have to lean towards Lopez by a clear but competitive decision the second time around. I feel the fact that Lopez will surely be coming into the fight in a better mental and physical state will help him plus there are a few question marks around Salido, given the fact that he struggled a bit and was dropped in his most recent fight with Heya.”
- Chris Robinson (Lopez)
“Lopez has a shaky chin and has taken a lot of shot but he's still younger. Salido was very close to stopped his last time out and may have peaked in the fight. I like the home court advantage for Lopez, who overcomes some rocky moments to win enough rounds for a decision or late stoppage.”
– Cliff Rold (Lopez)
“I will go with JuanMa, as Salido pushes him to the brink again. JuanMa looks to be in tremendous shape but Salido is looking great and wants to prove the first fight wasn't a fluke. JuanMa will have his hands full but he will see the final bell and squeak out a tight Unanimous Decision in a fun fight.”
– Luis Sandoval (Lopez)
Total picks: Juan Manuel Lopez 6, Orlando Salido 3
The Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader – which includes a 10-round featherweight co-feature between Mikey Garcia and Bernabe Concepcion – airs live at 10:00PM ET. Preceding the broadcast will be live bonus undercard coverage, which airs live on Showtime Extreme at 8:00PM ET.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]