By Chris Robinson
When I talked to WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido last month, the Sonora, Mexico native spoke on his interest in a fight with junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner and also reflected on the pair of victories over Juan Manuel Lopez in a year’s span that catapulted him to a different kind of status in the sport.
Possessing a 38-11-2 record with 26 knockouts, Salido’s road towards championship glory has definitely had its share of twists and turns along the way. And in speaking with the modest Salido, he gives credit to one fellow prizefighter in particular for helping him get to where he is today.
Juan Manuel Marquez.
In the fall of 2004, Salido would prepare for his bout with Marquez, then the holder of the IBF and WBA featherweight crowns. Marquez was a few months removed from a thrilling battle with Manny Pacquiao, a fight in which he survived three knockdowns in the first round before rallying to secure a split-draw verdict on the scorecards, and he was a big favorite to upend Salido.
Taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 18th, 2004 underneath the Bernard Hopkins-Oscar De La Hoya mega fight, Salido’s challenge of Marquez wasn’t even the most memorable fight of the night, so it is understandable how their bout may be overlooked in certain circles.
Marquez would end up nullifying Salido’s aggression over twelve rounds, landing enough effective punches during the bout to sway the judges towards giving him the decision by scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice.
Looking back on his performance, you can tell that Salido has no deep regrets and instead chalked his loss up as a crucial learning lesson from one of the game’s best.
“I did one thing that was important, because I respected him too much from the beginning,” Salido stated candidly. “When you respect somebody and you don’t put your 100%, you lose the fight. I believe that I was not ready for him at that moment and I didn’t pressure him enough. That was the reason I lost the fight. I never trained properly.”
Still, Salido was able to offer up a respectable effort on that evening and there were several things that he took from his battle with the Mexico City marvel that opened up his eyes to how his career was progressing at the time.
“When I fought Juan Manuel Marquez, I saw that I had a lot of potential,” Salido pointed out. “Then I realized that all those losses were because I never trained properly and seriously. When I realized that, it was a big change.”
And it seems fitting that Marquez was present in Salido’s dressing room on March 10th of this year in San Juan, Puerto Rico prior to his rematch with local favorite Juan Manuel Lopez. Salido would end up stopping Lopez in under ten rounds in a blazing war and he claims that the support and kind words from Marquez helped to give him a bit of an edge that evening.
“It was an honor for me and I was proud that my fellow boxer was with me and supported me,” Salido affirmed. “It was good for me because when I went to the ring I felt that I needed to demonstrate and not betray the trust of all the Mexican fans.”
Next up for Salido appears to be a July 21st defense of his title in Sonora while one week earlier Marquez will be defending his own WBO belt in a junior welterweight attraction from Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas against an opponent to be determined.