NEW YORK — Unbeaten Mexican-American featherweight contender Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia shook hands with Mexican WBO beltholder Orlando Salido between their separate open media workouts on Wednesday at The Kingsway Gym in advance of their HBO-televised clash on Saturday at the Theatre in Madison Square Garden.
They smiled and exchanged pleasantries in Spanish, among them, the promise that they would each try to knock each other senseless in order to please the crowd.
“Let’s go to war,” said Salido. “Let’s give the fans something that they can remember for a long, long time.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, and that’s what I’m here for,” said Garcia. “That’s why I prepared myself so well. I’m ready to give you the fight that you want.”
A 25-year-old resident of Oxnard, Garcia (30-0, 26 knockouts) has said that he is prepared for “the toughest test of my career” in Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs), a durable 32-year-old winner of his last five fights by knockout, including two stoppages of southpaw ex-titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez.
Meanwhile, Garcia scored his eighth consecutive knockout victory over Argentina’s rugged former titleholder Jonathan Victor Barros in the eighth round in November. In October of 2011, Garcia stopped Juan Carlos Martinez in the fourth round at The Theatre in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“Madison Square Garden has been the home to a lot of great fights,” said Salido, “and this one on Saturday against Garcia won’t be an exception.”
Salido has put together quite a run of is own since falling 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 in his past 19 fights, the latter being an overturned triumph over Robert Guerrero in November of 2006.
Initially awarded a unanimous decision, 115-113, 117-111, 118-110, over Guerrero, Salido 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.
“Seeing him in the gym today, it was very calm, and the respect is mutual,” said Salido. “But in the ring on Saturday night, it’s going to be a war that will please the people.”
RingTV.com polled 17 boxing insiders as to their thoughts on who wins Salido-Garcia.
Orlando Salido TKO Mikey Garcia: This should turn out to be a great fight. Mikey Garcia is technically sound and does everything well but nothing great.
Salido is coming off two big wins over JuanMa Lopez, and has shown great whiskers, an iron will and a big punch.
Salido is stepping way up in class, and this is a true pick-em fight. But I expect Salido to come out on top late in a fight where both combatants taste the canvas.
Mikey Garcia UD 12 Orlando Salido: Orlando Salido is arguably the best pressure fighter in the sport today, and he’s also two-fisted bomber.
He’ll bring the heat to Garcia, and probably take the early rounds with his activity and aggression because the 25-year-old challener is a slow starter.
However, I think Garcia, who is used to fighting and sparring with aggressive Mexican-style fighters, will gradually work his way into the fight.
Garcia will work his jab and time Salido with counter hooks, crosses and uppercuts. I think he’ll earn a close, hard-fought unanimous decision with the help of a knockdown scored sometime during the second half of a good fight.
Mikey Garcia UD 12 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia might be getting ahead of himself with this one. Orlando Salido has been inconsistent, but not against opponents poised for stardom.
To wit: Juan Manuel Lopez. Salido stopped him twice. That should be ample warning for the emerging Garcia, who is patient and skilled enough to beat the resilient Salido on the scorecards.
Orlando Salido TKO 9 Mikey Garcia: The 32-year old Orlando Salido has shown a tendency to fight up or down to his competition. The 25-year old Mikey Garcia is an A-list opponent with world class DNA in his veins, far more of a JuanMa Lopez than a Weng Haya.
It won’t be pretty, but after a good start from Garcia, Salido will grind inside, make his young challenger very uncomfortable in the trenches, and win by TKO — referee stoppage– when Garcia barely beats the count on unsteady legs after a debilitating ninth-round knockdown.
If Salido wanted to earn the RING championship, he could have tried to fight long time WBA featherweight titleholder Chris John to fill the vacancy at 126 pounds.
Good luck making that fight though. More realistically, if Salido wants to retain his reputation as the best featherweight in the world, that’s a title he can defend by defeating top contender Garcia.
With a big edge in experience, quality of opposition and all the intangible advantages that come with being a champion, I expect one more great night from boxing’s ultimate overachiever.
Mikey Garcia TKO 10 Orlando Salido: The X-factor is how Mikey Garcia will react to Orlando Salido’s attack. Will he go punch-for-punch or will he take his time and strike only when the openings present themselves.
Given Garcia’s habit of slow starts, he may find himself behind early. What separates Garcia from Salido is one-punch power, and if he strikes Salido, he’ll stay struck.
Plus, Salido’s iron chin has been dented of late, for Weng Haya scored two knockdowns, and Juan Manuel Lopez decked him in their rematch.
This will be a fun one to watch while it lasts, but look for the younger man to take the final step and seize the opportunity.
Mikey Garcia KO 10-12 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia will be crowned world titleholder on Saturday because there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Orlando Salido may very well be a tough and uncompromising attacking entity.
But Garcia’s methodical counter-game, tempered by his under-estimated power will dispose of Salido with ease. It might prove to be another great year for the Garcia family.
Mikey Garcia KO 10 Orlando Salido: I’ve been waiting for Mikey Garcia to get a title chance for a long time. I feel he is totally ready. Orlando Salido is a good champion, and he’ll probably give Mikey hell for quite a few rounds.
Garcia won’t be able to set as measured a pace as he likes. However, Salido, coming will, at some point, play right into Garcia’s strength.
Garcia will catch him with a pinpoint power shot, probably the straight right hand. Mikey is one of the best finishers in the sport, and he WILL finish. Garcia wins his first title.
Mikey Garcia TKO 9 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia hasn’t knocked out a fighter of Juan Manuel Lopez’s caliber twice, like Orlando Salido has done.
But his recent stoppage of former beltholder Jonathan Barros was indicative of the young upstart’s ability. At age 25, Garcia’s already got one of the best poker faces in the business.
He can stand in the pocket and pick you apart with a variety of weapons. Salido welcomes the toe-to-toe combat, and I expect him to land his own share of right hand bombs over the top.
But I think Garcia has the skills to follow a stunning shot with three or four in succession, and I see him taking control of a close bout in the middle rounds to wrest Salido’s belt away.
Mikey Garcia UD 12 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia is in the proper zone for continued success, and Orlando Salido will be his coming out party. No doubt that Salido is one tough cookie.
But Garcia is fresh enough and talented enough to offset the “I’ll be right there” approach of salido. Garcia by unanimous decision.”
Tommy Rainone, guest/fan, professional boxer, New York
Orlando Salido W 12 Mikey Garcia: This should be a old fashion war. Orlando Salido is just a good, tough, honest hard- working fighter inside the ring with a ton of experience.
Salido is red hot right now, and on five-bout winning steak since losing to Yuriorkis Gamboa, with two of those wins coming over Juan Manuel Lopez. Mikey Garcia is going to have to earn it.
He has passed every test thus far, but the final test in Salido is one he will have to bite down and fight very hard to win. I see a toe-to-toe, crowd-pleasing war that will come to who wants it more.
I’m a little concerned with Garcia’s stamina in a long hard fight, as he has never been the 12 round distance. Salido is a horse who has fought the much better competetion, and will be there all night.
I’ve gone back and fourth on my pick for this fight. Even as I am writing this. Although Garcia is the sexy pick, I’m going with salido in the upset by late stoppage or 12-round decision.
Mikey Garcia W 12 Orlando Salido: This really comes down to how much potential you think Mikey Garcia has versus how much Orlando Salido has left.
But considering Salido has had in his hands full in three of his last five fights — the sixth being a competitive loss to Yuriokis Gamboa — I’d have to make Garcia a slight favorite. Let’s crown a new star and go with Garcia by decision.
Mikey Garcia W 12 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia is in for the toughest fight of his career. I don’t buy that Orlando Salido is a shot fighter, as he is less than a year removed from one of his finest performances in the Juan Manuel Lopez rematch.
I expect Garcia to dig down and outbox Salido, but he won’t be able to rest for a moment. I predict Mikey Garcia will pull out a unanimous decision
Mikey Garcia KO Orlando Salido: Orlando Salido has had a nice run going. But he’s never been super consistent, and I think Mikey Garcia is the real deal.
Garcia can sometimes be too patient, but Salido is going to get close to him and the counters will open up.
Salido was in bad trouble with Weng Haya. He’s been stopped five times. Number six looks imminent, but it probably goes past six.
Mikey Garcia KO 7 Orlando Salido: I love the Orlando Salido-Mikey Garcia fight, which will be entertaining no matter who wins. This is a difficult pick. Salido is one tough dude, as he proved twice against Juan Manuel Lopez.
I think Garcia is a better all-around fighter, though. If he can stand up to Salido’s scary attack — a big if — I think he’ll win. Garcia by seventh-round knockout.
Mikey Garcia KO 8 Orlando Salido: Mikey Garcia is a rising superstar, and I feel he’ll want to stamp his rising stardom on a cagey veteran like Orlando Salido and stops him fairly late.
Mikey Garcia W 12 Orlando Salido: I’m going to go with Mikey Garcia in an upset 12 round decision in a very tough fight.
I was very impressed with the way Garcia gutted it out against Matt Remillard to overcome a severe case of food poisoning that started affecting him very early in the fight. I think it’s his time.
Mikey Garcia TKO 9 Orlando Salido: Orlando Salido is an underrated veteran fighter who has fought some of the best out there and beaten most of them. I don’t know how he lost 11 fights, but many came early in his career.
He can take a punch and come back for more. The question is will he be able to handle the heavy-handed Mikey Garcia, who has learned all the skills he needs from his big brother Robert.
He also has the gift of power. While he has not fought the quality of opponent as Salido, he’s very patient, and will set Salido up for his knockout punch. That will come in the eighth or ninth round. Garcia by TKO.
By a vote of 14-3, the experts look for Mikey Garcia to overcome WBO featherweight beltholder, Orlando Salido in what could be a classic clash.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com