By Jake Donovan
The March 10 featherweight doubleheader on Showtime could serve as a prelude for a showdown between its winners.
Defending titlist Orlando Salido travels back to the very arena in which he won his title, as he takes on Juan Manuel Lopez in a rematch to last April’s stunner at Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Salido stopped Lopez in the eighth round of their Showtime-televised bout, one that was recognized by Boxingscene.com as 2011’s Upset of the Year.
The televised co-feature showcases top featherweight contender Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (27-0, 23KO), who faces streaking Filipino southpaw Michael Farenas (33-3-3, 26KO) in a bout to determine the mandatory challenger for the main event.
Wins by Lopez and Garcia could lead to Top Rank revisiting its past formula of hosting a Puerto Rican-themed fight card in New York City on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade.
Three-division titlist Miguel Cotto has traditionally headlined the weekend, having taken the lead five times in the past seven years dating back to 2005. His last parade-centric appearance came in 2010, defeating Yuri Foreman in the revamped Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
From 2005 to 2010, the only time Cotto didn’t appear in the New York area during the festive weekend came in 2008, while he was preparing for his first showdown with Antonio Margarito one month later. In perhaps no small coincidence on that very weekend in Cotto’s absence, Lopez (31-1, 28KO) won his first major title in Atlantic City, knocking out Daniel Ponce de Leon in the first round.
Lopez has a chance to take the lead much closer to parade grounds this time around, but it’s contingent on his avenging the lone loss of his career.
“If everything breaks right – meaning if JuanMa beats Salido, and Mikey wins his fight – then we would be very interested in doing that fight on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day parade,” states Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
The weekend in question came up during the planning of another fight. Cotto’s name has been suggested as a possible candidate for Manny Pacquiao’s next fight, in the event that a Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather doesn’t happen at some point in May.
Cotto’s name was mentioned along with Lamont Peterson, Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Hopefully it will be Mayweather,” insists Arum. “If not, then the other four remain possibilities. Cotto is definitely a strong possibility in the event we’re forced to go to Plan B.”
For the moment, the June 9 date that has been floated with Pacquiao’s ring return would conflict with any plans of a Top Rank-led show in New York City. It has been also stated in the past that Pacquiao wouldn’t be able to fight in New York due to tax issues, which would nullify any plans of a Pacquiao-Cotto rematch taking place there.
That a Lopez-Garcia showdown is being targeted for that very weekend ties into Top Rank’s insistence that a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight remains their priority, which would free up the June 9 date. Of course a lot has to happen between now and then for all of the pieces to fit the puzzle.
“What happens in June depends on what happens on March 10,” Arum points out.
Lopez won in his lone fight since falling to Salido, stopping fringe contender Mike Oliver in two rounds. His 2011 campaign paled in comparison to that of Salido and Garcia, both of whom scored three knockouts each in as many fights over that same stretch.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com