Rod Salka Jr. was last in the ring in December, when he lost a junior welterweight bout against Ricardo “Dinamita” Alvarez, the 32-year-old older brother of Mexican star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, by disputed majority decision at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The bout represented the American debut for Alvarez in support of the main event featuring Marcos Maidana's unanimous decision that dethroned Adrien Broner as WBA welterweight titleholder on Showtime. His younger brother was sitting at ringside.
At his hotel, later that night with cornermen Paul Spadafora, Buzzy Garnic, Ron Roule and Rod Salka Sr., Salka lamented the lost opportunity based on the judges' cards, one of which scored it even at 95-95.
But a new development has breathed new possibilities into the career of Salka (18-3, 3 KOs), who will face hard-hitting Cuban Alexei "The Hurricane" Collado (18-0, 16 KOs) of Miami, Fla., by way of Cork, Ireland, and Havana, Cuba, on Showtime's ShoBox: The New Generation.
Promoted by Mike Tyson's Iron Mike Productions, Collado-Salka will be hosted by the Convention Center in Monroeville, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh, before Salka's partisan fans on April 18.
"It's like a second chance and another opportunity and it's great that it's in my hometown and everything. I'm from a small town called Bunola, which is a suburb of of Pittsburgh and this fight is taking place in another small town called Monroeville, which is another suburb of Pittsburgh," said Salka, during an interview with RingTV.com.
"[Collado]'s a good fighter, so I feel like if I do what I've got to do here and if I take care of business, who knows what can come out of it? They're making it for a WBC-affiliated belt, so that would put me right in there. I would have two good fights that were on Showtime if I win this fight and that will put me right where I would have been had I won the last fight."
The co-feature will match southpaw and Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (14-0, 8 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., in a welterweight bout against Emmanuel Lartei Lartey (15-1-1, 7 KOs) of Brooklyn by way of Ghana, with the opening bout featuring local war veteran Sammy Vasquez (13-0, 9 KOs) of Monessen, Pa., against Juan Rodriguez Jr. (11-0, 5 KOs) of Union City, N.J., in another welterweight bout.
"To be in the main event is great. It's a catchweight fight at 133 and this guy has fought a lot lighter, so he's coming up in weight. The hometown thing is just by chance," said Salka.
"They wanted to do a show here anyway and they wanted some local guys on the card, so I'm in the same situation I'm in before with the last fight and I need to take advantage of it, win the fight and see where we can go from there. It's crazy."