Fight Preview: Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Orlando Salido

Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez

(WBO Featherweight Title)

12 Rounds, March 10, Puerto Rico, March 10, 2012 (Showtime)

Former pound for pound great Juan Manuel Lopez gets a chance at redemption (and the WBO featherweight title) this weekend as he challenges Orlando Salido in a rematch from San Juan Puerto Rico.  Salido took the title from Lopez last April by way of a stunning 8th round TKO, earning divisional acclaim for himself, and singlehandedly foiling a potential showdown between Lopez and Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa.  Since that fight, Salido has defended his title twice, while Lopez managed to record a resounding comeback TKO victory over lightly regarded Mike Oliver.

Currently, Orlando Salido is rated #1 by boxrec.com, and he appears to be a highly motivated champion with plenty left to offer down the backstretch of his career.  For Juan Manuel Lopez, who was universally considered one of the best fighters in the sport less than a year ago, this is an all important “crossroads” type of fight that will either reestablish him as the premier world class talent he once was, or relegate him back to obscurity in the middle of the pack.  It should be an explosive, entertaining night of boxing, with lots of drama and a compelling story line to match.              

Orlando Salido

37-11-2 (25)

 

Juan Manuel Lopez

31-1 (28)

A

Opposition & Experience

B

A

Punch Output

A

B

Boxing Ability & Intangibles

A-

B+

Aggression

B

B

Power

A

B+

Hand Speed

B+

B-

Defense

B-

B

Chin

B+

A

Conditioning

A

B

Punch Accuracy

A

The Break Down

Orlando Salido is a very good boxer, who has gotten progressively better with a little age and experience.  Since starting his career at 8-6-1, he has won 29 out of his last 35 fights and 23 out of his last 26, losing only to Yuriorkis Gamboa, Cristobal Cruz, and Juan Manuel Marquez over the last decade.  In addition, he has not lost by knockout since 2000, a period of 36 fights. 

Despite a modest record of 37-11-2, Salido is a very accomplished fighter, with comparable hand speed, defensive abilities, conditioning, and punch activity to that of his challenger, and he brings an aggressive style that is centered on a high volume attack, and a commitment to throwing power punches.  In fact, according to Compubox numbers, 90% of his total punches landed over his last ten fights were power shots, a statistic that might help explain why a fighter with a career 49% knockout percentage has recorded seven stoppages in his last ten fights (or it could just be attributed to the steroids).  Either way, if Salido can press the action and keep his punch output as high as 80 per round (as he did in his two bouts with Cristobal Cruz), than he stands a good chance of proving that his performance the first time around was not a fluke.

For Juan Manuel Lopez, standing and trading is no longer an option.  That simplified tactic may have worked in the past, when he was knocking guys out a 90% clip, but now that Salido has exposed some bad habits and/or complacency, Lopez will have to pocket that knockout punch and fight a smarter fight.  Lopez can still bang a little, and if he catches Salido he can hurt him (Salido had to climb off the canvas twice to score an 8th round TKO of 15-3 Weng Haya in his last fight), but he would be wise to limit the exchanges on the inside and concentrate on presenting angles, as well as better head and foot movement.

 Conclusion

This is a tough one to call.  Juan Manuel Lopez had been absolutely dominant in thirty professional fights leading up to his showdown with Salido in April of last year, and his loss in that fight was either a matter of him taking an opponent too lightly, or it was simply a matter of him being bested by a peaking veteran fighter.  Personally, I think Lopez underestimated Salido’s power and resolve in their first fight, and his overconfidence and proven track record of walking through opponents worked against him.  He came to rely too heavily on that big punch of his, and was unaware, until too late, of the offensive success that Salido was having.  This time, he must utilize his boxing ability and move in and out, shooting accurate punches from long range, and making himself less of a stationary target.  Yuriorkis Gamboa was able to land well against Salido, while only getting hit 18% in return.  Granted, Lopez does not have that kind of hand speed, but if can fight a smart, conservative fight, I think he will win by a three or four point margin on the scorecards, or maybe even get the stoppage that his vengeful mind desires.

(Lopez by tough, but comfortable decision)

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