Hard Case: Juan Manuel Lopez-Orlando Salido Preview

*****

Juan Manuel Lopez has used a lethal right hook to overwhelm the vast majority of his opponents. Lopez’ hook—now considered one of the more dominant weapons in boxing—felled respectable names like Bernabe Concepcion, Steven Luevano, and Gerry Penalosa, and eventually submerged legendary action figure but shopworn Rafael Marquez in the biggest bout of the 27-year-old’s career.

Saturday night at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, he’ll be facing a hardened veteran who has proven to be difficult to overwhelm. Orlando Salido, 34-11-2, has been knocked out five times, but all five KOs were suffered as a teenager over a decade ago. In the five losses since the neophyte stages of his career, no one has looked particularly good against him. Not Robert Guerrero, although Salido’s dominant victory was changed to a no-decision after he tested positive for a steroid; not future hall-of-famer Juan Manuel Marquez, who beat him in a competitive fight; and not his most recent conqueror, Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Thus, the bout serves as a measuring stick for Lopez, 30-0 with 27 KOs, a paragraph in the fight hype narrative that will be repeated ad nauseum should a showdown with Gamboa ever materialize. But Lopez isn’t experienced in dealing with opponents who refuse to budge through the course of 12 rounds. If Salido can withstand the Puerto Rican’s explosive power, he can quickly transition from measuring stick to spoiler.

In fact, the only man to go 12 with Lopez, Tanzania’s Rogers Mtagwa, arguably won the fight despite the judges rewarding Lopez with the decision. While Lopez’ heart was on full display in the 2009 bout, so were his weaknesses. He leaves his chin out like tank tops on a clothesline while throwing combinations. His attack—centered around his right hook—can be a bit one-dimensional. And his whiskers are suspect, as he spent the entire final round against Mtagwa stumbling around the ring after getting nailed with an overhand right.

Salido, Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, is armed with a sneaky right and a consistent body attack. He’s also difficult to hit flush, adept at ducking under punches and slipping to his right. But he’s a slow starter, which may be his downfall against the energetic Lopez. If he has to crawl back from a deficit, as he did against Gamboa, he might just notch another competitive loss on his belt as a tough journeyman.

That Lopez, Caguas, Puerto Rico, has hardly faced anyone sturdy enough to stand up to him adds enough suspense for this to be an intriguing bout. Marquez and Gamboa had to use guile and strategy to navigate through 12 rounds with Salido. Lopez certainly isn’t as polished as Marquez, and is probably more rough around the edges than Gamboa. What, then, happens if Salido doesn’t blink when Lopez’ right hook crashes into his jaw?

The six-to-one odds that favor Lopez are understandable but overwrought—he’s a phenom with question marks. We’ll learn significantly more about what Lopez is made of Saturday night, win or lose.

SEE ALSO:

Days in the Wake: Juan Manuel Lopez TKO8 Rafael Marquez

More Human Than Human: Juan Manuel Lopez W12 Rogers Mtagwa

On The Brink: Juan Manuel Lopez TKO2 Bernabe Concepcion

*****

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Topics: Featherweights, JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ, Orlando Salido, Yuriorkis Gamboa

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  • Carlos Acevedo

    Hi Michael,

    Salido has no advantages whatsoever on Lopez except one that might be the most important: he is a genuine professional prizefighter and you can never rule them out in the ring.

    I agree with you that there may be some hint as to the future of Lopez based on this fight. This is not Freddy Hernandez, after all. Salido deserves to be an underdog, definitely, but this is a legitimate fight and not a set-up. As you note, Lopez sometimes looks so vulnerable that it would be silly to dismiss Salido out of hand. Salido knows what to do in the ring and if Lopez gets careless, there might be some fireworks. Lopez is not the dervish Gamboa is either. Maybe we’ll see Salido pull the same tricks Morales and Rubio did last week–try to ride things out early and get to work when the younger, stronger opponent decelerates.

    At the same time, Lopez might whack him out early. If he does, it will be a real statement. I expect him to come out fast in front of his hometown…he seems to live for that rush of blood, and that’s good for all of us.

    • http://theboxingbulletin.com Andrew Fruman

      Hi Michael,

      Even with the long odds, I’m kind of excited about this fight. I think Salido is just the type to extend Lopez and make him work, and the longer it goes, the more interesting it should get.

      “Maybe we’ll see Salido pull the same tricks Morales and Rubio did last week–try to ride things out early and get to work when the younger, stronger opponent decelerates.”

      Hi Carlos – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that. Plus, I don’t think Lopez will be able to coast late and stay safe, as his defensive abilities are lacking. Should be an interesting fight.

      I don’t want to flat out say I’m picking the upset… but I agree with Michael, those odds are too long. At 7 to 1, or 6 to 1, Salido’s worth a play in my opinion.

      • Michael Nelson

        Hey Andrew,

        The odds are definitely tasty. Lopez has had awesome performances since his scare against Mtagwa, sure, but this is the first guy I think that should extend him. Maybe even more of a “test” than Marquez was, since everyone knew that wasn’t going the distance either way.

    • Michael Nelson

      Hey Carlos,

      An early knockout would be impressive as hell. It’d make me reconsider what would happen when/if Lopez fights Gamboa (right now I think Gamboa kicks his ass). But I think Salido is crafty and tough enough to shake off some rough moments early to make a fight out of it. Then, with Lopez’ shaky chin, it should be fun.

  • Carlos Acevedo

    Hi guys,

    If Salido makes it through the first few onslaughts, we might see some interesting stuff. Salido is experienced, has Daniel Zaragoza in his corner, and knows how to take care of himself in the ring. If Lopez has struggled with weight, there might be another X-factor. I think Lopez will win, since he’s younger, faster, and hits harder, but this is a good test for him.

    Michael, I don’t care what Lopez does to Salido–Gamboa will smoke him! Lopez has been hurt in three of his last four fights and Gamboa is not the kind of fighter you want hurting you in the ring….

  • luvbrothel

    Man, did Salido expose that opening for a left hook or what! I was wondering when a fighter was going to take advantage of that massive target on Lopez.

    Probably the best thing that could have happened to JuanMa at this stage of his career. You just can’t stand in front of your opponent and exchange punches because you think your better, especially if you’re planning on moving up in weight. That left-right combo that sent Lopez down hard was brutal.

    Torn about the ref stoppage. JuanMa could have kept going, but he’s was getting belted and could have easily ended up face down on the canvas, which would have added insult to injury.

    It’s been a great couple of weeks of boxing! Let’s hope this keeps up after a really long lull.

    • Michael Nelson

      Agreed, luvbrothel. Hard to find a better example of power masking shortcomings than Juanma. His chin’s screaming for a left hook while he’s on the attack, but a guy has to face the meat grinder to land it.

      I think Mtagwa was, or should have been, his wake up call, so I’m not sure if this just isn’t who he’ll be in the future.

      The stoppage was a bit premature, but yeah, Lopez was getting trashed at that point. Salido took it easy in the 7th, then came out in the 8th with a ‘this is ending now’ look. Lopez was a beaten man.

      April’s been great so far.

      • luvbrothel

        Yeah, man, April has been resurrecting for boxing. Next bantamweight tournament should be a nice cap (hopefully) to finish off the month.

        And then my man Arce going after Vazquez, Jr. I think some guy named Pacquiao is fighting, too, but so what.