By Jake Donovan
Rave reviews are still coming in from Saturday’s featherweight rematch between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In yet another Fight of the Year candidate produced from the two, Salido recovered from a 5th round knockdown to put Lopez down and out in the 10th round.
One interested observer was divisional rival Jhonny Gonzalez, who defends his portion of the featherweight belt against former titlist Elio Rojas on April 14 in his native Mexico. Gonzalez (51-7, 45KO) has expressed past interest in fighting any of the top featherweights, hopeful that he too can be involved in top-level action such as what took place in San Juan.
“It was a tremendous war. Both fighters gave 110%,” Gonzalez stated shortly after the conclusion of the Showtime-televised main event. “We believe Salido dominated the fight. JuanMa isn’t the great JuanMa anymore.”
His countryman has a lot to do with the present state of Lopez, who has now lost two of his last three bouts and has absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment in both fights. The future doesn’t look bright for the Puerto Rican southpaw, but there is still time at age 28 to turn around his career.
There is perhaps no greater example than Salido, who has never enjoyed a winning streak longer than nine fights at any point in his 16-year career but at age 31 sits atop the featherweight division.
Also no stranger to overcoming adversity is Gonzalez. The Mexican banger – who just celebrated his 30th birthday last year – began his career with two straight losses and has been written off on several occasions.
Knockouts losses to Israel Vazquez and Gerry Penalosa were supposed to end his days as a potential star. A stoppage loss at the hands of Toshiaki Nishioka in ‘09 was declared the final nail in the coffin for Gonzalez, believed to have led a career that was long on excitement but short on achievement.
Someone forgot to send that memo to Gonzalez, who has since rattled off 11 straight wins – all by knockout.
Chief among them was a career-resurrecting 4th round knockout of the excellent Hozumi Hasegawa on the road in Japan nearly one year ago. The win netted Gonzalez the featherweight belt he defends for the 4th time in next month’s bout with Rojas (23-1, 14KO), the belt’s previous owner who was forced to vacate due to injury.
Gonzalez is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead and is aptly preparing.
“Jhonny is preparing for his April fight with Elio Rojas,” informs his promoter Oswalde Kuchle. It’s going to be a tough fight and training camp is going excellent with head trainer Nacho Beristain. Jhonny is working on speed and power, watching Elio’s videos all the time.”
A well-prepared Gonzalez is hoped to result in a victorious fighter, at which point he can then focus on the future.
“I would love to give an opportunity to Salido or JuanMa for the WBC title,” said Gonzalez.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]