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Lopez and Salcido: Fully Loaded for Jr. Lightweight Division

BY David A. Avila ON February 20, 2007
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Inland area boxing fans get a treat when Riverside’s Josesito Lopez and Rialto’s Dominic Salcido are featured on separate junior lightweight bouts at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel on Friday in Southern California.

Lopez and Salcido are two of the best young 130-pound prospects in the country with multi-faceted boxing tools.

Just as baseball has five-tool prospects, boxing has its five-tool requirements in evaluating a young prizefighter’s abilities and potential for a world title.

Great prizefighters like a Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya have all five tools that include speed, power, defensive skills, stamina and the heart to withstand pain and punishment.

“If you have stamina and heart you can go a long way with just one of the other tools,” said boxing trainer Rudy Hernandez who trains several contenders including Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Urbano Antillon. “If you have all five of the assets then you’re pretty much going to be a great fighter unless injury cuts you short.”

Injury problems have hampered Salcido, a slick, electrifying fighter with speed and power in both fists. His last fight took place almost a year ago when he knocked out Odi Rivera with a broken right hand. An operation soon took place to repair the damage. After months of physical therapy he was finally allowed to don boxing gloves and return to the ring.

“It gets confusing and frustrating watching everybody else fight,” said Salcido, 22. “I’m hungry. I just want to get in there and throw blows.”

Because of injury problems and a change of management, Salcido’s boxing career has resulted in a total of only eight fights, though he began boxing professionally in 2003.

After demolishing Rogelio Ramirez in 2004, famed trainer and current HBO analyst Emanuel Steward signed to be Salcido’s manager. But logistics proved that merger to be a bad one as Salcido seldom fought and was seldom able to gain knowledge from the trainer who tutored Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns and Prince Naseem Hamed.

Last year Salcido signed a promotional contract with Thompson Boxing Promotions but suffered a broken right hand despite knocking out Rivera on March 31, 2006. It was the third time he had injured his hand.

“Everything is good now,” says Salcido (8-0, 5 KOs), whose sister Marilyn Salcido was ranked number one as a bantamweight but is now retired. “I’ve been sparring every week.”

Now trained by Joel Diaz, the older brother of world champion Julio Diaz, the Rialto High School graduate Salcido has returned to his goal of claiming a world title. He also spars with his stable mate Timothy Ray Bradley who is ranked number 10 as a junior welterweight.

“When me and Tim (Bradley) spar the whole gym stops to watch us,” said Salcido who travels daily to Indio from Rialto for training sessions. “I helped him prepare for his last fight. He looked great.”

Salcido is confident that his regular sparring sessions with Bradley and guidance from his new trainer Diaz have boosted his skill level a few notches.

“Fighting with Tim makes my reaction time quicker and my punches are going to be snappy when I fight,” Salcido says.

Opposing Salcido will be Carlos Hernandez (3-2-1) in a rematch. They first met in the ring in July 2003. Since then Hernandez has not lost.

“I can’t wait for this fight to happen I’m just going to explode.” Salcido says.

Lopez

In the main event Rubidoux High graduate Lopez meets a dangerous opponent in Nicaragua’s Octavio Narvaez.

Narvaez (13-3-1, 8 KOs) has only been stopped once in the ring and that came against former WBA junior lightweight titleholder Vicente Mosquera, who lost the title in a slugfest against Edwin Valero last year.

“We don’t know anything else about this guy Narvaez,” said Henry Ramirez, who trains and manages Lopez. “We know he’s fought some tough guys.”

In his last bout that took place November 2006, Lopez seemed to graduate to another boxing level in decisively beating Mexico’s Adrian Navarrete. The slender Riverside prizefighter showed poise, skill and power in stopping the knockout puncher in seven rounds. Navarrete had never been knocked out.

“They (Navarrete and his trainer) told me they didn’t think I could do that,” said Lopez, 22, a cross-country athlete in high school. “They didn’t think I had the power.”

Lopez only engaged Navarrete when he had a distinct advantage in speed or balance. And though the rugged Mexican fighter stunned Lopez with a left hook in the seventh round of their match, he mistakenly went for the coup de grace and ran into a counter left hook from the Riverside fighter. A 10-punch burst of punches from Lopez left Navarrete helpless.

“Knowing that I knocked out a puncher makes me feel good,” Lopez (18-2, 11 KOs) says. “That win brought me up to a whole other level.”

Ramirez said that Lopez, should he win, could face another prospect out of Mexico named Juan Carlos Salgado in April. It’s going to be the televised featured main event on Telefutura and telecast nationally.

“There’s no reason to protect him any longer,” Ramirez said. “Jose (Lopez) is at the level where he has to beat the good guys. No more easy fights.”

Last April, Lopez suffered only his second loss against a Las Vegas prizefighter Wes Ferguson on that fighter’s hometown. Lopez lost by split-decision, but he gained experience and knowledge from that defeat.

“I’m maturing more as a boxer. I’m settling down more,” said Lopez, who fired twice as many blows as Ferguson in their meeting but still was judged the loser. “This last fight we worked on a lot of different things. We’re focusing on things I should be doing instead of just banging with a banger.”

Lopez, ranked number 20 as a lightweight boxer by the WBC, intends to fight at the lower junior lightweight division.

“He feels he can still make that weight,” said Ramirez.

Against Narvaez, the Riverside prizefighter has to worry about weight and the Nicaraguan’s power.

“It’s exciting to know if I win I’ll be fighting in front of thousands on television,” Lopez said.

Alex Camponovo, the matchmaker for Thompson Promotions, said Lopez is ready for primetime television fight cards and Salcido is ready to take Lopez’s place as the main event fighter at the Doubletree until he’s ready for the bigger fights. Both fighters have several of the tools needed to progress to move to the upper echelon.

“It’s a good position to be in,” Camponovo says.

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