COMMENTARY | Orlando Salido is not a star, not an Internet traffic generator, and not the type of fighter who gets the cover of Ring Magazine. But for those who truly love the sport and its characters, the blue collar pug from Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico just may be the face of boxing.
The last time fans saw "Siri" Salido, he was being manhandled by rising star Mikey Garcia en route to an eight round technical decision loss. If one had only seen the result and Salido's rather pedestrian ring record of 39-12-2 with 27 knockouts, the temptation would be to just write him off as a mid-level battler lucky enough to be a two-time featherweight champ in an era of multiple world champs.
But, like much of Salido's career, there's more to the Garcia fight than the one-line summary on Boxrec.
Salido, who was knocked down four times in the bout and looked lost for the first half of the contest, was actually fighting through a serious injury that has not only stopped fights, but ended careers.
After the bout, it was revealed that Salido had suffered a broken right orbital bone and, according to manager Sean Gibbons, the injury may have happened "right off the bat in the first round."
Not only did Salido fight through the excruciatingly painful injury, facing off against one of the heaviest pound for pound punchers in the game, but he was even able to regain composure and get himself right back into the fight.
By the time the contest was waved off due to a Garcia broken nose via clash of heads, Salido was gaining ground on the young star. Many feel that, had the fight gone into the later rounds, Salido could very well have found a way to beat Garcia. At the time of the stoppage, things were as even as could be expected from a bout that may have been over for several rounds had someone not named Orlando Salido been in the blue corner.
Nothing has come easy for Salido. Brought up in poverty and educated on the rough Mexican club circuit, "Siri" learned boxing the hard way-from being pushed into the ring against fighters well above his level of experience and ability. But over the course of seventeen tough years as a pro, he has learned to compensate for his lack of world class athleticism with toughness, dogged determination, and the old school skills of a fighter who has actually fought.
This Saturday on the Bradley-Marquez undercard, Salido makes a run for his third world featherweight title against Puerto Rican top contender, Orlando Cruz. It'll be yet another in a long line of Mexico vs. Puerto Rico battles and it will also represent a battle between two almost polar opposites.
Cruz, a former Olympian, had a stellar amateur career and the type of skills that made him a "must watch" prospect almost from the moment he turned pro. The knock against the stylist from San Juan has been that maybe, possibly he's not physically tough enough for the main stage of the sport.
All of the opposite can be said of Salido, who lacks the grace and athleticism of an elite, but is tougher than just about anyone in his weight range.
Fans will soon see whether grit conquers grace or if God-given talent trumps all.
Either way, it's a sure thing that Orlando Salido will fight his heart out every step of the way.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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