By Jake Donovan
Resurging featherweight Orlando Salido made the first defense of his alphabet title on Saturday evening with an 11th round stoppage over visiting Kenichi Yamaguchi of Japan.
The official time was 2:50 of the 11th round of their Fox Deportes main event, which aired live from Centro de Usos Multiples in Salido’s hometown of Ciudad Obrego, Sonora, Mexico.
Salido scored knockdowns in the third and ninth rounds, and also battered Yamaguchi over the course of the bout before forcing a stoppage late in the championship rounds.
The bout was the typical laboring affair for the 30-year old Salido, who applied pressure every second of every round in his greatest attempt to force his challenger to wilt.
It appeared as if such a moment would come in the third round, when Salido floored Yamaguchi hard in a neutral corner. The challenger made it to his feet and braved the storm but for the punishment he absorbed would have perhaps been better served to call it a night at that moment and proceed to collect his paycheck.
Instead, he battled on and Salido made him earn every dollar paid for this bout. Another knockdown came in the ninth round, one that once again suggested the end was near. Yamaguchi once again bravely rose to his feet, though it was clear that the fight had been completely been beaten out of him.
There reached a point in the 10th where Salido almost seemed to flirt with the idea of putting in the work and letting the bout to the scorecards. But the raucous cheers of his hometown fans convinced him to dig just a little deeper, which proved to be the difference between a 12-round fight and the actual result, which had the referee rescuing Yamaguchi from further punishment with just over three minutes to go.
The win is Salido’s first since his monstrous eighth-round upset knockout of previously unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez three months ago. The Mexican improves to 36-11-2 (23KO) with the win, which marks his second tour as a featherweight titlist.
His first reign lasted a whopping four months, winning the belt from Cristobal Cruz in their high-octane rematch in May ‘10, only to concede it to Yuriorkis Gamboa last September.
Seven months later, promoter Bob Arum rolled the dice and opted for a comparison showcase bout for Lopez in his prolonged efforts to milk the hype for a super fight with Gamboa. His risk came up craps, as Salido offered up the performance of a lifetime in dropping and eventually stopping the Puerto Rican in eight rounds.
A rematch is in store for later this year. Lopez will enter the bout cold, opting to not take an interim fight.
Salido insisted on a stay busy performance, leading to his domination of Yamaguchi, who heads back to Japan with a mark of 17-2-2 (4KO).
It was a smart move by the veteran, who will now land three televised dates in 2011 when all is said and done, and along with that activity collecting three respectable paychecks on the year.
The up and down career of Alejandro Valdez seems to have taken a permanent turn for the worse. His latest folly came in the televised co-feature, where he suffered a fourth round knockout loss at the hands of rising Mexican prospect Enrique Bernache.
Valdez was nearly out on his feet barely a minute into the fight, but weathered the storm and boxed back well enough to earn his opponent’s respect.
What he failed to do, pretty much at any point in the bout, was gain control of the action. Bernache seemed to have an answer every time he was presented with a challenge, save for the occasional accidental foul, including a low blow and headbutt on separate occasions in the second and third round.
The beginning of the end came late in the fourth when Valdez was once again hurt and eventually sent to the canvas. The former title challenger tried in vain to beat the referee’s count, but couldn’t find his legs and was unable to sell the third man on the prospect of his being able to continue.
The official time was 2:59 of the fourth round.
Bernache, who turns 23 in September, is on quite a role as he begins to transition from prospect to contender. The rising Mexican talent improves to 18-2 (9KO) with the win, possibly the biggest of his young career which already includes victories over previously unbeaten Ramon Maas and Felipe Orucuta within the past 12 months.
Valdez’ trend of win one and lose one continues, though this loss can prove to be far more damaging than any of his previous efforts. He falls to 25-6-2 (19KO), losing for the second time in the past five months. Now more than a year and a half removed from his failed vacant title bid against Nehomar Cermeno, the likelihood of the 27-year old Valdez ever again competing on the championship level appears bleak at best.
With plenty of time to kill, Ruben Tamayo was given a few moments to showcase his skills. A few moment was all that he needed, making quick work of faded journeyman Jose Cardenas. Some will argue it was too quick, as a not exactly justified stoppage came at 2:24 of round two.
The show was presented by Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .