Orlando Salido Upsets Juan Manuel Lopez in Puerto Rico
By Gabriel Montoya, from Maxboxing.com (April 17, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
Orlando Salido & Juan Manuel Lopez
On Saturday night, the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico might as well have been called Upset City because that’s what it was when Orlando Salido (35-11-2 with 23 KOs) stepped into the ring with Puerto Rican favorite sun and now former WBO featherweight titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez (30-1 with 27 KOs).

The action was slow to start as Lopez, who was said to have come into camp heavy but with a looming super fight against Yuri Gamboa who has a decision win over Salido, looked sluggish and slow. Salido’s guard and approach were tight and tentative early on with mere single shots to the head and body of Lopez.

JuanMa looked like he warming up in the second, getting off his left hand. But Salido gave back as good as he got and landed a foreshadowing right hand over the top. Lopez would answer back in a late flurry but his left hand seemed to have no effect on Salido.

In the third, Salido warmed to the task at hand and more and more that right hand began to land. Lopez got in two nice right hooks from his southpaw stance but Salido held up. Two rights in succession backed up Lopez and the fight seemed to be on more than even ground because of it. They traded hard down the stretch but it was Salido who seemed the stronger, more damaging puncher.

A hard right by Salido in the fourth  rocked Lopez who more and more abandoned what jab he had and backed off. Another right by Salido found it’s home and it was adjustment time for Lopez who chose to get active rather than defensive. Lopez would flurry and get in a left hand but all it did was make Salido move to center ring and reset. From there, he landed a hard left hook and more right hands. The fight was nowhere near in control for Lopez.

The fifth was more of the same, each man fighting tactically, looking to land their power rear shots. But it was Salido who was more consistently coming forward. Because of that he was able to get Min position and land a left hook that buckled his knees and a right hand that lifted Lopez in the air and landed him on his back, badly hurt. He would get up but if not for the round ending, the fight would have been over right there.

Lopez spent much of the sixth round surviving, getting rocked by right hands and moving about the ring to escape the Salido onslaught. Late in the round, Lopez landed a left hand that seemed to stun Salido and a flurry followed. But it was a harsh round for Lopez who took brutal shots to the head and body throughout.

The seventh round saw Lopez slowly climbing back in the fight. His legs looked a little stronger and Salido perhaps took a little breather after trying to finish Lopez in the last two rounds. Still, Lopez was not out of the woods yet.

In the eighth, Salido would land a left hook in the first minute that seemed to hurt Lopez all over again. A right landed again and Lopez backed into the corner, fighting back but with weak punches. The two exchanged along the ropes and while Lopez was fighting back, the end seemed near. Still, when referee Robert Ramirez, jr jumped in to wave the fight off at 1:39 of the eighth, it seemed too soon. A water bottle was thrown at commentator Al Bernstein, JuanMa seemed incensed, calling he ref a “carbon” and the crowd boo’d incessantly. Still, none of that could change the fact that Orlando Salido had done the unthinkable to a rising star in the boxing world.

“The fight was even for the first four rounds,” said Salido. “But I knew I had to pressure a lot to win because we are in Puerto Rico. I started to attack and [Lopez] started opening up. That’s when I saw something where I could get in. He did recuperate for the first minute, but he was slowing down. Against [Yuri] Gamboa, I was not prepared. But today I was very prepared.”

“No, he was hitting me but they should not have stopped the fight,” Lopez said afterwards. “I was still conscious. I was still counter punching. The punch in the fifth hurt but I recouped. He is a very uncomfortable fighter. I could not block the right hand.”  

In a fight much closer than the scorecards showed, junior lightweight Luis Cruz (18-0 with 14 KOs) scored a unanimous decision on the undercard over Martin Honorio (29-6-1 with 15 KOs) by scores of 100-90, 96-94 and 98-92.

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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