By Jake Donovan
Make no mistaken, Orlando 'Siri' Salido is eager for another crack at avenging a past defeat to Roman 'Rocky' Martinez. He just wants to have a say in where a third fight between the pair of 130-pound boxers will take place.
Both sides have agreed to terms for another go, the latest entry in their rivalrly due to be staged at a location to be determined on February 20. American cable giant Showtime is keen on picking up the rights to the fight, with its Pay-Per-View arm having presented their rematch in September.
Rumors swirled of the network insisting that such a fight take place in Puerto Rico, where it could be possibly paired up with two other major title fights.
Showtime brass declined comment on that aspect, other than expressing interest in remaining in the Martinez-Salido business and the bout potentially headlining a planned February 20 telecast.
Martinez claimed victory in their first fight this past April, scoring two knockdowns and fending off a late Salido rally to take a unanimous decision and the super featherweight title. The bout took place in San Juan, the capital city rougly 40 minutes east of Martinez' hometown in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico.
The rematch came five months later, with Salido - two months shy of his 35th birthday at the time - outworking Martinez over 12 rounds but settling for a split decision draw in Las Vegas. The bout was staged as the chief support to the final fight of Floyd Mayweather's career, a 12-round shutout of Andre Berto.
Salido was an independent on the card, as Martinez promoter Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions (PRBBP) now enjoys a working relationship with adviser and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) creator Al Haymon.
In effect, Salido has gone up against the house fighter twice in a row - hardly a new development in his near 20-year career. Such will likely be the case for a third right. With that, he would like to have some say in where their third fight is staged
"No question, 'Siri' has love for his fans all around the world and fond memories of Puerto Rico. But we'd prefer a more neutral location for the third fight," Sean Gibbons, Salido's adviser told BoxingScene.com. "The first fight already took place there. Salido has paid his dues and should have his say in where a third fight gets done. If we can help it, we'd rather it take place somewhere other than Puerto Rico."
Salido - a former three-time featherweight titlist saw his brief stay as a super featherweight come to an end with the loss to Martinez. It was his first fight back in Puerto Rico since 2012, where he returned for a repeat knockout win over Juan Manuel Lopez, whom he stopped in a major upset one year prior when the southpaw was still an undefeated featherweight titlist. He is 3-1 overall in Puerto Rico, the loss to Martinez his only defeat on the island.
While acknowledging that he put himself in a hole with the early knockdowns, Salido was none too pleased with the performance turned in by referee Jose Hiram Rivera. Officiating is hardly a strong suit in Puerto Rico, a noted point of contention for Salido, who historically has never been given the benefit of the doubt in close fights.
The lone exception came nearly two years ago in a split decision win over Vasyl Lomachenko. Salido showed up over the featherweight limit and then flirted with disqualification due to the number of low blows thrown in the fight, but still managed to escape with a win over the legendary two-time Olympic Gold medalist, who was gunning for a world title in just hos second pro fight.
As he enters the twilight of his career, Salido still believes he has enough left in the tank for one more title run. He came dangerously close in the rematch and hopes the third time's a charm, wherever the fight takes place.
"It can be Las Vegas again. It can be Chicago, even New York. There are plenty of options," Gibbons notes. "The point is that Orlando wants this fight. He's a better option than anyone else Martinez could face next (there has been discussion of mandatory challenger Miguel Berchelt stepping in, although representing a less attractive option).
"Showtime wants the fight and we believe Martinez wants it too. It's the fight to make; we just need to be assured a level playing field and Salido asked me that it not take place in Puerto Rico. After (nearly) 20 years of putting it all on the line every time he steps in the ring, we don't feel that's too much to ask."
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox