Orlando Salido wants to go down the Rocky Road again
It was a fight that predictably stole the show when Rocky Martinez and Orlando Salido once again battled tooth-and-nail over 12 rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this past weekend. If there was anything redeeming about the pay-per-view card that featured the “farewell” of Floyd Mayweather Jr. against Andre Berto (which was a glorified sparring session that lived down to every expectation), it was this pairing.
Both Martinez – the defending WBO junior lightweight weight titlist – and Salido chipped away at each other for 36 minutes and at the end of the bout, most observers had Salido (who had lost this title to the rugged Puerto Rican back on April 11) winning the fight on the basis of his work rate, activity and consistent body punching.
Unfortunately, while Burt Clements had Salido winning 115-113, he was overruled by Patricia Morse Jarman, who had Martinez by the same score, and Glenn Feldman had it 114-114, making this fight a split draw. Naturally, this meant Martinez retained the title.
As the fight ended and as the cards were being read, “That was the farthest thing from my mind when I heard the scores,” admitted Salido, who’s record dropped to 42-13-3 (29). “I said, ‘What?!’ I was sure I won the fight. I was committed during the fight. I was intelligent. I don’t know what happened there.”
A few days after the fight, he was absolutely convinced he was the victor.
“I won that fight,” he said, through Top Rank Promotions publicist Ricardo Jimenez on Tuesday morning while in Phoenix, Arizona. “We did what we needed to do. I threw more punches. I stayed on top of him all night. I did everything. I know I won that fight; everyone says I won that fight. Everyone that saw that fight – except for the judges.”
Sean Gibbons of Zanfer Promotions noted, “I have not found one person – not even on the island of Puerto Rico – that tells me Martinez could’ve got it ’15-’13 or it could’ve been a draw. Nobody. Being nice in the fight was 7-5 [for Salido], being nice. 8-4, 9-3, I’ve had people tell me ’17-’11.” One scorecard left Gibbons particularly disgusted. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years; there’s not one person, except two judges that thought it was a draw. Everyone thought Salido won. The one lady [Jarman] that thought Martinez won, she’s insane.
“I don’t know what she was watching. Three rounds in a row, 10, 11 and 12 [she scored for Martinez]. She needs to open her eyes when she’s filling out the scorecards next time. I mean, I could just hand it in before the fight.”
After trading knockdowns in round three, Salido found his groove and seemed to be the more effective of the two in the middle rounds, strafing Martinez’s body with a two-fisted attack that never stopped. Both men let the leather fly throughout the evening and there was an ebb-and-flow to this contest that was both unmistakable and entertaining. Unlike their first encounter, Salido was allowed to settle into a groove.
“The big difference was the referee,” pointed out Salido. “In Puerto Rico, the guy kept talking to me, pushing me. He wanted me to stay away from him, so I couldn’t a rhythm going and, in this fight, the referee [Vic Drakulich] wasn’t involved and he let me do my fight and when I did my fight, I controlled it.”
The referee last April was Jose Hiram Rivera, who Marv Levy would have described as “an over-officious jerk,” who not only kept warning Salido for borderline shots to the belt but docked him a point in round 11 in that fight. “The proof is in the pudding. It was an absolute tank job with that referee in Puerto Rico,” said a blunt Gibbons, who, like Salido, let his hands go. “Absolute tank job and you could see the difference. I mean, we were fighting two-on-one in Puerto Rico; we were fighting one-on-one in Las Vegas.”
So what’s next?
Well, it’s pretty clear that a third go-round is in the cards. And the truth of the matter is both Salido and Martinez are at the very tail ends of their careers. Salido, who is 34 years old, has been a pro since 1996 and it’s been awhile since he hasn’t hit the canvas in a fight. It’s clear that, for all his grit and toughness, his punch resistance has eroded. Like Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward, they seemed built for each other like peanut butter and jelly. Perhaps they shouldn’t face anyone but one another for the time being. Bottom line: Against fresher fighters, they may both be pushed off the cliff.
Regardless, these two simply can’t make a bad fight versus each other.
“We knew, going into the fights, that our styles were perfect for each other and, yeah, I think every time we fight, not only are the fights going to get better but I think because we know each other, we know what we’re trying to do,” explained Salido. “I think the first one was good; the second one was better and I think the third one will be the best of the three.”
2015 has not been a banner year when it comes to “Fight of the Year” candidates but both editions of Martinez-Salido should be on the short list. Salido, who believes in his heart that he has evened up the series, wants a third chapter. “I think the fans feel that there’s unfinished business and I did everything in the ring and I was wronged – I should’ve won that fight. I feel there still needs to be another fight to prove who’s a better fighter.”
Zanfer Promotions has asked for a review of the fight with the WBO but Gibbons feels as though a third encounter will ”most definitely” take place in the first quarter of 2016 one way or the other. Word is Showtime is interested in airing it.
“1,000 percent,” stated Gibbons. “Before the final bell rang [on Saturday], I heard Stephen Espinoza [executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports] saying to people, ‘Hey, we want to do the third fight, no matter who wins or loses,’ and I believe he thought ‘Rocky’ was on his way to losing when he made those comments. But I think there’s absolute interest in those fights and you look at Salido’s history on Showtime, it’s tremendous with the [Juan Manuel] ‘JuanMa’ Lopez fights, this one. The first one with Martinez, Showtime took it from Peter Rivera [of PR Best Promotions] and got a copy of it and put their own graphics over it so it looked like a Showtime fight during the build-up to this, so definitely Showtime is looking at the bout.”
A few days after his latest scrap with Martinez, Salido admitted he was still “sore all over.” But till the very end, he remains the consummate fighter.
“I’m ready for what’s next.”
This week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly has a very special guest (it’s a must-listen!).
Here’s the latest edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me. It can be heard right here…
…and it can be downloaded here.
Shouldn’t Martinez-Salido III be at the Home Depot Center? I wonder if HBO regrets not buying this match-up at the beginning of the year…Demetrius Andrade returns on Oct. 17 at the Mohegan Sun Casino against an unknown foe. How the not-so-mighty have fallen…Yes, I will be at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Saturday to watch my Canes versus Nebraska. The real season begins now…I can’t even believe it rained in Southern California on Tuesday. Quite frankly, we need a lot more…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.