By Chris Robinson
Tomorrow night at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Orlando Salido (37-11-2, 25 knockouts) will defend his WBO featherweight crown against hometown favorite Juan Manuel Lopez (31-1, 28 knockouts) in a rematch of last April’s thriller that saw the Sonora, Mexico native drop ‘Juanma’ in the fifth round before forcing a referee’s stoppage three frames later.
The co-feature on that night is an interesting one that also takes place at 126 pounds as former title challenger Bernabe Concepcion (29-5-1, 15 knockouts) faces off with unbeaten Miguel ‘Mikey’ Garcia (27-0, 23 knockouts).
Concepcion, hailing from Catanduanes in the Philippines, is no stranger to the big stage, having fought for a portion of the junior featherweight and featherweight championships on different occasions as he was disqualified for hitting Steven Luevano after the bell ending round seven in August of 2009 while being blown away by Lopez in under two rounds in July of 2010.
Having gone just 2-3 in his last five bouts, the most recent being another life or death battle as he pulled out a split-decision over former amateur champion Aaron Garcia, Concepcion realizes the importance of this weekend’s clash and wasn’t ruffled at all by what he deemed as a little pre-fight gamesmanship coming from Garcia.
“This is a do or die fight for me,” Concepcion would state to me through his personal assistant Boyax Lim. “Especially that he is high in the ratings; it’s an additional motivating factor for me. During the press conference, [Garcia] got his face up close, maybe to intimidate me but it does not bother me.”
What you reach a rough patch as a professional in the sport of boxing, you have to persevere and find some form of inspiration that allows you to push forward.
For Concepcion, seeing his good friend and church mate Sonny Boy Jaro pull off an upset in the form of a 6th round TKO over reigning WBC flyweight champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam earlier this month was all he needed.
“I see Jaro’s achievement as another motivation for me," said Concepcion. "Despite all of the years of trying to have that belt, it finally paid off. He deserves that belt and I am happy for Sonny. His dreams came true.”
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