It’s a fight that’s gone almost completely under the radar in the English-speaking world, but Orlando Salido returns to the squared circle on Saturday, May 27, in the city of Obregon in Sonora, Mexico. A true warrior in the mold of such legendary hell-for-leather fighters as Stanley Ketchel, Rocky Graziano, Mathew Saad Muhammad, and Arturo Gatti, Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs) opposes Columbia’s Aristides Perez in a match scheduled for 10 rounds. The Zanfer Promotions fight will be televised in the United States on the Spanish language beIn network.
It’s a risky endeavor for Salido, a former IBF and WBO world featherweight champion, who is jeopardizing a late summer match with former foe Vasyl Lomachenko.
Salido, who resides in Phoenix where he occasionally fights boredom by working as an Uber driver, is returning to his hometown. Five-and-a-half years have elapsed since he last fought here. He has never lost in Obregon, going 12-0 in the city of his birth. Two of those victories came in title fights: vs. Cristobal Cruz in 2010 (UD 12) and Kenichi Yamaguchi in 2011 (TKO 11).
Aristides Perez, from Cartagena, is 10-1-1 in his last 12 starts, but only three of his 10 victims had winning records. Overall he is 30-9-2. And while on paper Perez isn’t in Salido’s league, it’s yet a risky fight for Salido who has been in so many wars that he is prone to grow old overnight. A pro since the age of 15, the 36-year-old slugger has answered the bell for 419 rounds.
Salido’s most recent fight was a fight for the ages with countryman Francisco Vargas. The June 4 bout at SoCal’s Stub Hub Center was named the Fight of the Year by numerous entities, including The Sweet Science. The bruising 12-round encounter, which was scored a draw, was expected to be barnburner and exceeded expectations, drawing comparisons to the iconic 2005 clash between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. The previously undefeated Vargas showed the effects of that battle in his next outing. He was stopped by Miguel Berchelt. This is Salido’s first fight back.
Salido’s signature win came on March 1, 2014 at the San Antonio Alamodome where he scored a split decision over the aforementioned Lomachenko. That remains the lone blemish on the professional record of the former two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Salido, who came in 11 pounds heavier on the day of the fight, took the Ukrainian to school, in a matter of speaking. Playing loose with the Queensberry rules, he roughed up Lomachenko, strafing him with a steady volley of low blows among other infractions. The referee, Laurence Cole, was widely criticized for failing to take action. In hindsight, Cole conceded that he didn’t bring his “A” game.
It was the sort of fight that begs for a rematch, and — barring a slip-up by Salido on Saturday — is sure to take place in the next 90 days or thereabouts. It’s a very easy fight to make.
Orlando Salido’s promoter is Sean Gibbons. One of the great characters in boxing, Gibbons earned his spurs as a young man on the lower Midwestern tank town circuit where boxing is less an athletic competition than a form of charades. He is very tight with Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum, notwithstanding the fact that Arum, a former boss, once fired him. That was strictly done for cosmetic purposes, occurring at a time when Arum’s company was being investigated by the FBI.
There are nine fights in all on Saturday’s show, four of which are women’s fights. The 10-round co-main is an all-Mexican affair pitting Tijuana’s Kenia Enriquez (18-1, 8 KOs) against Saltillo’s Maria Salinas (15-5-3, 5 KOs). At stake is an interim WBC light flyweight strap.
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