WBO Featherweight Champion Orlando Salido was originally supposed to defend his hard-earned crown against Mikey Garcia on November 10th, but that was postponed after Salido broke a finger. Now the fight is scheduled for January 19, 2013, in New York on an HBO-televised tripleheader which also featuresGennady Golovkin vs. Gabriel Rosado and Roman Martinez vs. Juan Carlos Burgos.
In Garcia, Salido faces an undefeated slugger who has come up through the ranks in the old fashioned way: by winning and defending two regional titles. In Salido, Garcia faces a veteran Mexican champion who, in modern memory at least, has lost only to some of the very best.
Miguel Angel Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs)
5’6″ tall, 70″ reach, 25 years old
NABO-NABF Featherweight Champion (NABF title vacated; NABO title is the regional belt for the WBO)
Garcia comes from a good amateur background, despite his lack of major international experience or adult division titles. Coming from a boxing family (Eduardo Garcia is his father and trainer; former IBF super featherweight champ and current top-trainer Roberto Garcia is his brother), he was a juniors division National Golden Gloves and PAL champ, defeating current junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia (no relation) back in the day.
Rather than do the adult amateur thing for a few years, Garcia turned pro in 2006. He has matured into a crisp, well-schooled boxer-puncher. Garcia fights in a measured, technically sound fashion, but behind that technique is an explosive puncher capable of drilling opponents with powerful, accurate blows. In his last bout, Mikey blasted Jonathan Victor Barros with a single left hook. The only reason this fight was a TKO instead of a KO is because Barros struggled back to his feet and then decided he couldn’t continue, telling the referee “no mas.”
Garica also shows a great deal of poise for a fighter so young, and thus far none of the journeymen or fringe contenders he has faced have been able to fluster him for even a moment. However, Mikey Garcia has yet to fight a truly world class opponent.
Orlando Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs)
5’7″ tall, 67″ reach, 32 years old
Former IBF Featherweight Champion; Current WBO Featherweight Champion
To call Salido a “veteran” is an understatement. Salido came up through the rough and tumble world of Mexican club fights, losing several along the way. His first title challenge was a 2004 engagement with the current King of Mexican Boxing, Juan Manuel Marquez, still a featherweight back then.
In 2006, he tried for a title again, defeating Robert Guerrero, the current #3 welterweight in the world. That victory was changed into a No Contest Salido was controversially tested positive for steroids (controversially because follow-up tests came up negative — the No Contest continues to stand).
Siri’s hard luck saga continued when he went for Cristobal Cruz’s IBF belt in 2008, dropping a Split Decision loss. He won the IBF title in a 2010 rematch with Cruz, finally becoming a world champion, only to lose the belt later that year in a unification fight with Yuriokis Gamboa. The hard luck streak ended when Salido met Juan Manuel Lopez for the first time in 2011, winning the WBO title. Salido solidified his reign by beating Lopez again in 2012’s Fight of the Year.
In terms of style, Salido is a high-energy, high-action swarmer. He comes forward, forces the action, and wins fights by throwing punches in bunches at close range.
Garcia’s road to victory is a simple one. He needs to work the jab effectively, use his technique and reach advantages to keep Salido at a distance, and pile on the points while looking for opportunities to land his guided anti-tank missiles without getting drawn into a trench war. Salido tends to wing his shots, so Mikey will find plenty of counter-punching opportunities to exploit if he stays patient and avoids having a brawl forced on him.
Salido needs to make the fight into that brawl to win. The Mexican needs to come on, get inside, set a furious pace, and stay there. If Siri can lay on the leather constantly and consistently, he will take Garcia out of his game plan and take him into a place where Garcia has never been before. Garcia may adapt, but on the other hand he is just as likely to crumble under the pressure.
This is a classic bull vs. matador match-up, and the winner will be the one best able to operate on his chosen footing.
Salido vs. Garcia Prediction
It’s hard for me to see Salido’s pressure tactics and aggression not getting the better of Garcia, at least not for a short period of time. Garcia has never fought a man of Salido’s caliber, and even a fringe contender like Barros was able to hang with Garcia and stay competitive for a while. I expect the fireworks to start early and for Garcia to find himself rudely shoved out of his comfort zone.
The thing at that point becomes what kind of fighters these two men are. Salido is good, but the truth is that he loses whenever he is matched against a member of boxing’s true elite. I also believe that too much is made of his Fight of the Year performance against JuanMa: Salido and JuanMa put on a stellar show, but neither is a truly stellar fighter.
Mikey Garcia, on the other hand, might just be a guy flowering into becoming a member of boxing’s elite. If that is the case, he will find his measure under pressure and re-assert control, jabbing his way to a points win, and perhaps dropping Salido with a hard counter along the way. It is also possible that his sound defense and precision power punching will see him through a trench war, with Mikey rising to Salido’s challenge and beating him at his own game.
While that is possible, it’s not very likely. I think if Garcia finds himself in the trenches for too long, Salido will bottle him up and grind him down.
I ultimately give Mikey Garcia 3 to 2 odds of beating Orlando Salido, and sense that his most likely road to doing that is boxing and countering. I see Garcia winning a clean Unanimous Decision.
Prediction: Miguel Angel Garcia UD12 Orlando Salido