In January, Mikey Garcia (31-0) made a statement against WBO & The Ring featherweight (126 lbs) titlist Orlando Salido. Efficient, slick and powerful, Garcia managed to drop Salido four times in the early stages of the bout. The challenger was giving the champion a one-sided, yet exciting, beatdown.
In the 8th round, Salido pulled a Yoshiaki Fujiwara in PWFG, and busted out an intentional, nose-breaking, ram-like headbutt on Garcia. It was ridiculous and absurd; as intentional as a tope gets in boxing. Salido appeared to think he won by TKO, yes he thought a pinche headbutt was the finishing blow when Garcia’s corner stopped the fight. But when a foul causes a fight to be stopped at that point in the fight, it goes to technical decision. Garcia easily won on all of the judges scorecards, getting the nod via wide unanimous decision.
In his next fight, which takes place tonight on HBO, Garcia will take on Salido’s old and bitter rival — Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2). The Puerto Rican engaged in two memorable fights against Salido, one of which was one of my favorite fights of 2012. It also featured what was arguably the best round of the year.
Since losing to Salido early last year, Lopez bounced back in wins against Brazil’s Aldimar Silva and Eugenio Lopez. The only two blemishes in his record are from Salido going into his home territory and finishing him via TKO. Tonight in Dallas, he will have his chance to regain the WBO featherweight championship. As for Garcia, he missed weight by two-pounds and was stripped of the WBO featherweight championship. In other words, the title is only up for grabs if Lopez wins the tilt since the Puerto Rican made the agreed-upon weight-limit.
Stylistically speaking, I think Garcia is going to put a hurtin’ on Lopez. While I do think it’s bad and unprofessional that he didn’t make weight, I don’t think it’s going to hurt Garcia in the fight tonight. I do hope he learns from what happened with the weight-cut and doesn’t let it happen again in future bouts. As the fight itself, I think it’s probably going to be the most enjoyable fight on Saturday night. One-sided? Claro que si. But like Garcia’s earlier performance this year, he has the neat talent of making those types of fights fun to watch. And Lopez, if nothing else, will go down, swinging away.