While unbeaten featherweight contender Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia believes his Jan. 19 fight against Mexican WBO beltholder Orlando Salido will be “the toughest test of my career,” the 25-year-old also has declared himself “ready for the challenge” of facing him on HBO.
“Orlando Salido is the best featherweight champion in the world, and he has earned the right to be called that,” said Garcia (30-0, 26 knockouts) of Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs), a durable 32-year-old winner of his last five fights by knockout, including two stoppages of ex-titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez.
“He is very strong and very experienced and this will be the toughest test of my career, but I am ready for it. I have been waiting to fight for a world championship for awhile and I am ready for the challenge. I now have the experience and the skill to face the best fighters at featherweight and I will prove it.”
An Oxnard, Calif., resident, Garcia scored his eighth consecutive stoppage victory over Argentina’s rugged former titleholder Jonathan Victor Barros in the eighth round of November’s HBO-televised bout.
In October of 2011, Garcia stopped Juan Carlos Martinez in the fourth round at The Theatre in New York’s Madison Square Garden, site of his clash with Salido.
“I love going to New York for this fight. New York has always been a great fight town and I had a great experience there when I fought there last year,” said Garcia, whose triumph over Martinez represented his fifth straight by knockout.
“It’s a great place to fight and a great place to win my first world championship. I’m looking forward to a great fight and to giving the fans my best effort possible. I know that this is about winning, but also, about giving the fans their money’s worth.”
But since losing by unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez as a featherweight in September of 2004, Salido is 16-2 with 12 stoppage victories and a no-contest, the latter being an overturned triumph over Robert Guerrero in November of 2006.
Although Salido was initially awarded a unanimous decision — 115-113, 117-111, 118-110 — over Guerrero, he was later stripped of the IBF’s 126-pound belt after testing positive for steroids.
In 2011, Salido sandwiched knockouts over Kenichi Yamaguchi and Weng Haya between the two against Lopez. He ended Yamaguchi’s run of 13 straight wins, three by stoppage, and Haya’s streak of three consecutive victories, two by knockout.
Coming off July’s third-round knockout of Moises Gutierrez, Salido last suffered defeat by unanimous decision in September of 2010 against unbeaten former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, a Cuban Olympic gold medalist and current WBA interim 130-pound beltholder.
“It has been a very intense training camp because we know that this is the most important fight of my career,” said Garcia.
“I believe I have the skills and the strength to beat Orlando Salido, but I know that I have to be very smart and very patient in the ring.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org