by David P. Greisman
The loss was difficult enough for lightweight Rod Salka to swallow. And now he’s waiting to see how when can return and attempt to bounce back from the disputed majority decision defeat to junior welterweight Ricardo Alvarez.
Salka lost to Alvarez, one of Canelo Alvarez’s brothers, in December in San Antonio on the undercard to Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana. The official scorecards read 95-95, and then 98-92 and 96-94 for Alvarez.
“I have Rod Salka beating Ricardo Alvarez 96-94. Close rounds I scored for Alvarez,” tweeted Francisco Salazar of BoxingScene afterward “Alvarez wins by scores of 98-92 96-94 & 95-95 over Salka. That's a disappointment, as Salka was [the] more effective fighter.”
Said Doug Fischer of RingTV.com afterward: “Didn't see much of the Ricardo Alvarez-Rod Salka fight, but most ringside press thought Salka was robbed. From what I saw, Salka was in command; Alvarez walked into every shot.”
Alvarez will move on to face titleholder Omar Figueroa on March 8. Salka feels Alvarez doesn’t deserve the Figueroa fight, and now Salka is wondering what comes next in his own career.
Salka, who is 30 years old and 18-3 with 3 knockouts, spoke with BoxingScene.com on Jan. 27.
BoxingScene.com: Given that you feel you deserved to beat Ricardo Alvarez this past December, what are your thoughts on the news that Alvarez will now be facing lightweight titleholder Omar Figueroa in March on the undercard to Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo?
Salka: “Well I kind of figured that’s what would happen. With him being the brother of Canelo, Canelo fighting the main event on that show, I figured he’d end up getting that fight. I don’t think he deserves to get the fight, but I figured he would. I’m not really concerned with him doing that. I’m just more worried about what happens with me now, you know.
“They signed me. I get in there and fight the kid, and I thought I won the fight. What do I get out of it, other than he goes and makes way more money for his fight and I’m sitting around not making any money, not doing anything right now? That’s what’s kind of frustrating more than anything else. I’ve been a pro since 2007. Every time I go out of town and fight somebody, I feel like — at least this fight is on TV, but I’m 18-3 now, and I feel like I’m still undefeated. It’d kind of be nice to catch a break or get something to where I can make a little bit of money.”
BoxingScene.com: Who promotes you right now?
Salka: “I signed with Golden Boy before that fight. It’s like a five-fight, two-year deal.”
BoxingScene.com: Has there been any conversation between Golden Boy and you regarding what comes next for you?
Salka: I hadn’t heard from them at all for like a month after the fight, and then last week they called my agent and said ‘Just hang tight and stay in shape and we’ll have something down the line for you.’ But I’m not really good at that. I’m 30 years old. I’ll be 31 next month. I kind of want to get moving, you know what I mean? Give me something. Tell me something, because I have my promoter’s license.
“I’ve promoted six or seven fights locally in Pittsburgh. I can do that again in the meantime. But I don’t want to sit back and do nothing and hope something works out. I’m sure it wasn’t in their plans to have me come down and beat Alvarez and have all that happen. I don’t know what they were thinking. I know now that I’d like a shot at whoever wins the fight.
“I think it’ll be a good fight. I think Figueroa beats him, but I think it’s a better fight than maybe some people will think, because Alvarez needs someone to stand right there and Figueroa will stand right there. I still think Figueroa is more skilled than Ricardo. I’d like a shot at either one of them, whoever wins.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you feel like you deserved the victory against Alvarez, and why do you think the judges didn’t give you the victory?
Salka: “I mean, I felt like I out-boxed him the whole fight. I felt like I was doing enough. I’m usually pretty good with knowing if I won rounds. Normally I give the other guy rounds if they’re close in my head while I’m fighting. When I come back from the round, I know, ‘I landed more punches, I made him miss.’ The only thing I didn’t anticipate when I watched the fight back was them thinking that he was landing hard punches.
“They were like assuming that his punches that he was landing were doing damage, that they were hard, when they really weren’t. When I watched the fight back, it was exactly how it was while I was in the ring. He would land one punch at a time. He would throw combinations here and there, but he never landed more than one at a time. And usually when he did, he was reaching with it and slapping with it. I was throwing combinations. Even when he would land a punch, I would come back with a combination.
“I really didn’t feel like you could give him that fight at all, and then on top of that, I didn’t talk to anybody after the fight that had him winning. I didn’t read one article that said that people who watched the fight thought that he won the fight. I mean, of course a lot of people might not tell you to your face. … But I didn’t have anybody that said that he won the fight, except those three judges [two scored for Alvarez, one had it a draw], all from Texas, with a local Texas-based promoter, with Leija-Battah promoting.
“I mean, the sport kind of breeds it. It can be the same thing said when I promote shows in Pittsburgh. When I’m promoting local shows in Pittsburgh, essentially I’m paying the judges. The promoter pays the judges. These judges are obviously people who like watching boxing. They’re only going to judge, 99 percent of the time, local fights. So if I’m losing these fights on the card, I’m not going to keep promoting shows. I’m going to go do something else, so they’re not going to get to judge fights and make that little bit of money.
“And even more so when there’s titles on the line or it’s a bigger show, because then judges are getting paid more money. Now instead of $100, it’s $400 or $500. $400 or $500 is a nice little evening for someone to sit right next to the ring and watch some good fights and get paid. If their guys lose the fight, then that gives the promoter less incentive to put on shows around there, and essentially puts the judges out of work. It’s kind of just breeding corruption when you do that.
“And with technology, with television and the Internet and everything nowadays, I don’t see why you need judges from that state judging the fights at all. It’s on TV. You can have judges in three opposite corners of the world judging that fight via computer. I don’t know, it is what it is. It seems like boxing’s comfortable with it, and it’s not going to change, and the people in charge and in power don’t want it to change, because then they can control the outcomes a little bit better.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel that had you gotten the decision you feel you deserved, that Alvarez would’ve gone on to get the Figueroa fight anyway, or that it would’ve been you?
Salka: “You know what, to be honest with you, I feel like there’s a lot of guys out there that would probably feel like they should get the fight, too. I mean, I was ranked No. 15 in the WBA at 135, which I still have, actually, because the fight was at 140. He was ranked like No. 11 or No. 13. You figure, there are 14 or 15 other guys in those rankings who would probably argue that they should be the ones that get the fight.
“The only reason that maybe I would’ve had a decent shot is because I am also signed with Golden Boy, as is Figueroa, so that fight happens easier, and then I’d have just won a fight on television against a ranked guy, which also gives you a little boost. I can see that being an argument for me to get that fight, but like I said, there’s 14 other guys in the top 15 that probably say, ‘Well I beat this guy and fought this guy.’ That’s just the politics of it. I’m just trying to put myself in position.
“I can’t be mad at Ricardo. Life’s not fair. Some people have easier paths than other people. My job is to try to get myself in the position to where I can do what I got to do, if I got to do it by fighting, by signing the right contracts. I do it by promoting shows locally, by paying sanctioning fees to the WBA [for his NABA title]. There’s so many things you got to do other than just fight to get yourself in position for the money fights or the big fights.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you want to do with 2014, and what do you need to do to get to where you hope to be with your career?
Salka: “That’s the thing. It’s almost out of my hands now, because I’m signed with Golden Boy. If it was up to me, I’d already have a fight scheduled around here, and I’d already be defending a belt or trying to get something else or working on something to try to move myself forward. I kind of have to just wait on them.
“And that fight that they have on March 8, they have [Jorge] Linares fighting [Nihito] Arakawa, and then they have Alvarez fighting Figueroa, both from my weight. So you never know. I’m training. Someone can get cut. Someone can get injured. Anything can happen. I can end up in one of those spots. Obviously two people are going to lose those fights and two people are going to win those fights.
“And the thing with 135 and Golden Boy right now is they only have that WBC in-house with Broner [now with Figueroa]. That’s the only belt they have. The WBA is with Richard Abril, he’s not with Golden Boy. The WBO is with Ricky Burns, he’s not with Golden Boy. The IBF is with [Miguel] Vazquez, he’s with Top Rank. … To be honest with you, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think Terence Crawford beats Ricky Burns, and Richard Abril is fighting in Russia, I believe. I just got to wait,
I guess, and hopefully that’s a good fight between Figueroa and Alvarez, and hopefully I can get people talking about, ‘Oh, there’s this other guy.’
“I did get offered a fight on Fox Sports 1 on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston against some kid, Jamie Kavanagh. It’s an eight-round fight, it’s a Golden Boy card, but again, promoted by a local guy from Dropkick Murphys, the band. The kid’s Irish. … I don’t mind doing that anymore if it’s on TV, but I’m done doing it if it’s not, because you lose a fight you think you should’ve won, and nobody even knows about it.
“I emailed my agent. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet. And I don’t know what Golden Boy wants to do. It’s kind of weird, because this is the first time where I don’t make the decision on my own in my career. As of last year, before I signed with Golden Boy, I had no agent and I had no promoter, so if somebody called me for a fight and I wanted to take it, I could say ‘yes’ right on the phone and be done with it.”
“I don’t know. I’m really not a fan of fighting an eight-round fight after fighting 10-round fights. I’m really not a fan of fighting for half the money I fought for in my last fight, when I feel like I should’ve won that fight. I don’t know, but if it’s the only option, it’s the only option. If they come with a better offer — you know how that goes, they call and offer you something, you say no, and they come back and offer you something better sometimes. We’ll see.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]