by Cliff Rold
Against Yuriorkis Gamboa, he got off the floor twice in the final round. Defeat came calling but he stood to hear it announced by the judges.
In his most recent fight before Saturday, he got off the deck in consecutive rounds before coming to score a stoppage himself against Weng Haya.
Saturday, a short right had Orlando Salido on the floor in the fifth round of a fight he appeared in control of. A man whose record has five stoppage losses has none of them since the year 2000. For twelve years, Orlando Salido, win, lose, or draw, has been a man who will not stay down.
That was bad news for Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez who suffered his second knockout loss at home to the Mexican warrior on Saturday night.
Let’s go the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Saliido B; Lopez B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Salido B+; Lopez A/Post: B+; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Salido B; Lopez B-/Post: B; C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Salido B+; Lopez B+/Post: A; B+
There were two times in the fight where one could wonder if maybe Lopez had figured out the riddle Salido poses him. At the end of the third, he went back to the corner with something akin to a sneer. His facial expression said he’d endured some serious fire and withstood. He looked like he believed he could win.
In the ninth, what stood out was the all-out assault. Lopez gave an effort reminiscent of the insane attack unleashed by Sugar Ray Robinson on Randy Turpin in their legendary rematch for the Middleweight crown. Robinson was attempting to win the crown back after a surprising upset. He was cut bad and informed he had one round before the gash ended his night. He let loose in round ten, aiming for the kill and damn the rules.
Lopez went to a similar place. Holding and hitting, elbowing, shots that ventured low…it was all on the table. Lopez was doing anything he could to win. The referee showed no inclination to intervene. It was up to Salido to deal with the moment.
Lopez is no Robinson.
In a sure candidate for Round of the Year, Salido kept pace and wouldn’t let himself be overwhelmed. Salido ended matters with a savage combination in the tenth.
After the fight, Lopez gave an awful interview, accusing the referee of a gambling problem. It says here to cut him some slack. There are moments where one’s best is not enough. Sometimes, people lie to themselves to cope. Five minutes after a devastating loss might be one of those times. Lopez could have handled defeat better but what needed to be shown of his character had already been on display in the ring.
Post-fight interview reactions are overrated and over analyzed.
Lopez did a lot of things right on Saturday. He tried to box more, and was better at taking away Salido’s right then he had been the first time. Sure, he still got hit and hurt often, but he was attempting to correct some mistakes. He just can’t stop hanging his chin out like a dead curveball.
Salido has proven, head to head, to be the better man. For his sake, the knockout was a blessing. He was winning by any rational assessment going into the tenth. Two of the judge’s scores said he wasn’t. Michael Pernick and Cesar Ramos had him up 86-84.
In scoring the fight, and keeping in mind a rash of bad scores and bad officiating lately, this scribe kept two cards. The real one had Salido winning 7-2, giving rounds one and five to Lopez. The hometown card took into account rounds where Lopez’s effort was stronger, where the crowd was really going bananas for him (like the eighth and ninth) even as Salido continued landing most of the better stuff. That card had Lopez down only 5-4.
It shouldn’t be like this but it is. Hometowns count.
Had Salido been hurt the same way in the fifth, but earlier, maybe Lopez could have found a different result. Chances are, he would not. Salido is a hard man.
He just won’t stay down.
Looking ahead, Lopez might need to be scaled back if he is to continue. He’s a stellar action fighter. He has four genuine classics under his belt now. In two, against Rogers Mtagwa and Rafael Marquez, he won. Twice, he has lost to Salido. There is a Gatti-esque quality to Lopez. Matched correctly, there is still a lot of money to be made on him from that angle. He has a vulnerable chin, defensive holes, and seems to be losing some of the snap on his shots…but he has heart to spare and that’s still worth the price of admission.
Salido will have new opportunities. He’d be a fascinating match with anyone in the division save Yuriorkis Gamboa, a fight we’ve already seen and need not see again. For as long as he reigns as a Featherweight titlist (WBO in his case), this run will continue to remain one to watch.
Report Card Picks 2012: 9-3
Lightweight: There hasn’t been a chance to see Ricky Burns-Paulus Moses yet but the result, a unanimous decision win for Burns, seems agreed upon. Burns is on a nice roll but there’s just no room to rise at 135 for the moment. Both men remain where they were prior to the weekend.
Featherweight: Miguel Garcia’s latest win gets him mild bump and Lopez’s second loss in three fights sees him drop just outside the top five.
The full ratings update is a click away.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]