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THE BREAKDOWN: Salido-JuanMa II

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THE BREAKDOWN: Salido-JuanMa II – What a difference a fight can make.

Last year, prior to the first meeting between Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido, Lopez was regarded as one of boxing’s future superstars. Considered by many to be a potential pound for pound talent, as well as a huge box office smash, due to his crowd pleasing style, Lopez could do no wrong. Apart from Pacquiao versus Mayweather, Juan Manuel Lopez versus Yuriorkis Gamboa was considered THE must see fight in boxing, in the eyes of many.

Orlando Salido had other ideas.

In the biggest upset of 2011, the undefeated Lopez, 32-1 [28 kos] was sensationally stopped in the eighth round by 8 -1 underdog Salido, 35-11 [23 kos]. Lopez versus Gamboa has now lost it’s glamour.

This Saturday, at the Calise Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico, the 28 year-old Lopez has a chance of redemption when he gets his rematch with Salido in yet another chapter in the now famous Mexico versus Puerto Rico boxing rivalry. The contest, televised by Showtime, will be for Salido’s 126 pound title.

Up until the Salido fight, Lopez was on the fast track to stardom. Winning his first world title at bantamweight, via a stunning first round knockout over the always tough Daniel Ponce De Leon, Lopez rapidly progressed through the ranks and weights, with successful title defenses against the likes of Gerry Penalosa and Rogers Mtagwa, before moving up to featherweight and continuing his run with wins over Steve Luevano, Bernabe Concepcion and Rafael Marquez.

Contrary to Lopez, the 31 year-old Salido was never considered to be one of boxing’s prodigal sons. He plied his trade the old fashioned way. Suffering numerous defeats, during the early part of his career, Salido seemed barely a C level fighter. However, after a nine fight winning streak, which was eventually halted by fellow Mexican, Juan Manuel Marquez, Salido’s talent was starting to become apparent. His improvement continued with wins over Mtagwa [ in less difficult fashion than Lopez managed ], Robert Guerrero [ later ruled a no contest due to a failed drugs test ] and an avenged loss to Cristobal Cruz, in which Salido claimed the IBF 126 pound title.

Moving on from their last contest back in April of last year, both fighters have failed to impress. Lopez looked less than spectacular whilst stopping light hitting American Mike Oliver in two. Meanwhile Salido was dropped twice on route to stopping Filipino Weng Haya in eight rounds.

THE SCIENCE:

Lopez, a dangerous southpaw, is the owner of knockout power in either hand. Although most of his attacks begin with the right jab, he often leads with power shots, in particular his right hook and overhand left. While Lopez does not invest to the body as much as he should, he is not just a head hunter either. Lopez’ best weapon is his overhand left, which combined with his right hooks and uppercuts, make him one of the better combination punchers in boxing. Once Lopez has an opponent hurt, his size and strength simply overwhelm his opponents. He is among the best finishers in boxing.

Because of his lack of footspeed and less than great skills in close, Lopez, at his best, inflicts the most damage to his opponents at mid-range.

What makes Lopez so captivating to watch is his vulnerability, which is direct a result of his defensive neglect and seemingly poor chin. Lopez’ entire emphasis is on attack, so much so, that he has been hurt in fights [ Mtagwa and Concepcion ] when he really shouldn’t have been. As with a lot of southpaws, Lopez has also looked vulnerable to the right hand. More worryingly, Salido seemed to find a home for it in their last fight.

Technically, there is nothing flashy about Lopez’ movement, he will circle counter- clockwise from time to time, behind his jab. Before marching foward trying to land his power shots. Lopez is always pressing the attack. Despite Lopez preferring to be right in front of his man, he is not comfortable right in close. When he had Concepcion hurt in their fight, he took a step back, almost to regain his optimum distance at which he likes to get his punches off.

Salido, fighting out of an orthodox stance, is a more thinking man’s fighter than Lopez. While he is not a pure boxer, there is a lot more strategy involved in his work. On the surface, Salido seems like the stereotypical Mexican fighter, walking foward behind a high guard, taking two to land one, looking to get inside and land his power shots. Looks can be misleading.

Yes, Salido likes to come foward, yes, he is aggressive, but there are lot of subtleties that can sometimes go unnoticed. Salido is superb at creating punching angles. He achieves this by slipping punches on the inside, and coming back with a counter. Salido also likes to throw punches, away from the target, with the intention of countering straight back, because of his new found angle. While Salido is not a particularly hard puncher, he is an accurate puncher. Because of his limited handspeed, he has been forced to work a lot more on the timing of his punches, something Yuriorkis Gamboa found out during their bout. His overhand right that he likes to throw in close or at mid-range, is by far his most productive punch.

Salido, as proven in the past, is more than capable of fighting bell to bell. His stamina, for a fighter of 31, in a smaller weight class, is tremendous.

Perhaps the most effective part of Salido’s arsenal is his comfort level in close. Granted, he is no Pernell Whitaker, but Salido is not that easy to hit clean. His clarity and experience on the inside enable him to see most of the action amid heavy fire.

THE SCENARIO:

Like their first fight, Salido will again be the underdog. Lopez will be looking to prove the result of their last fight was nothing more than a minor set-back, whilst pursuing bigger and better things. Of course Lopez is capable of winning the fight. His heavy handedness is a “get out of jail free card” if ever there was one. Let’s also remind ourselves that like last time, the fight is in Lopez’ native Puerto rico. At the time of the stoppage, the judges had the fight even going into the ninth round, despite the fact many thought Salido was in control and winning the fight.

In terms of what both fighters require from the other, they both oblige. Although Lopez is the more athletic of the two, neither fighter is blessed with great speed or movement. Neither fighter wants to go looking for the other. They will be right in front of each other, willing to trade shots.

This is the reason why Salido came out on top last time. Salido is by far the more polished fighter in close. He is not as wreckless as Lopez is. Using the last fight as evidence, look at their body shapes during most of the exchanges. Lopez, looking to land his wide power shots in close, was standing square on to Salido, with his feet parallel to his shoulders. Contrast this to the way Salido was standing. Salido, with his right shoulder and left [front] foot, almost in a six o`clock position, was in a perfect position to throw a straighter, less telegraphed right hand.

Simply put, Salido has a better understanding of punching angles than Lopez does. If both fighter’s are throwing at the same time, technical correctness will win the day. Think of Nonito Donaire beating Fernando Montiel to the punch as an example.

Lopez cannot afford to get into a gunslinging contest with Salido again. While Lopez has a significant edge in power, Salido has the edge in precision and poise. There is more craft, than craziness, to his work. Last time out, Lopez was hit over and over by Salido’s overhand right. Lopez had no answer for it because of his lack of head or upper body movement. Suicide, when operating within punching range. Salido on the other hand, often utilises head movement in close. He also likes to dip and bend at the waist on offense and defense.

In order for Lopez to avoid the right hand, he needs to learn how to adapt in the ring. If Lopez goes in with the same strategy as last time, expect the craftier Salido to once again expose Juanma’s defensive flaws. Instead, Lopez should take a look at how Gamboa was successful against Salido. The Cuban was able to keep Salido guessing as to where the next attack was coming from. By using more movement and distance, he made Salido walk to him, which enabled Gamboa to come in from different angles, landing his combinations.

The problem of course, is whether or not Lopez can adjust. If he can, then maybe we will see a more rangy, counterpunching based strategy with more in the way of lateral movement. If not, then we will probably have a repeat of the first leg as Lopez will be standing flat footed, stalking and looking to land his power shots while disregarding his defensive responsibility, as Salido, proving he is the better technician in close, will be landing his right hand all night long.

This really is the last chance saloon for Lopez. Defeat wouldsurely put a fatal bullet in his chances of becoming a major box office performer. For his sake then, let’s hope he doesn’t opt for a gun fight. Salido has already proven that he will be the last man standing if Lopez decides to take that avenue.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Brandon Figueroa KOs Nery and Danny Roman Wins Too

David A. Avila

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LOS ANGELES-Brandon Figueroa took the air out of Mexico’s Luis Nery to win by knockout and unify the WBA and WBC super bantamweight titles on Saturday. It was a belly buster that did the job.

Texan Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs) set out to prove that Tijuana’s two-division world champion Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) could not endure a toe-to-toe battle with the bigger guys and he proved it before several thousand fans at the Dignity Health Sports Park.

It was a back-and-forth battle that saw Nery attack the body and head while Figueroa focused on winging big blows from a distance and in close. Many of the rounds were extremely close to score.

When Nery was able to battle from a distance and dive inside, he seemed the much more athletic between the two champions. But Figueroa just seemed stronger and unfazed by any of the Mexican fighter’s blows.

Though Figueroa absorbed a lot of punishment, he never seemed in trouble. When Nery connected with a several combinations in the fifth round by landing five-punch and three-punch combinations, it looked like he was taking control.

He did not.

Figueroa opened the sixth round with two left hook blasts that reminded Nery that the taller Texan had a punch. When Nery tried to rally with his own blasts, Figueroa slipped under back-to-back left hooks. It seemed to change the tide.

“I knew he was getting tired,” said Figueroa. “He was trying to box me.”

In the seventh round Figueroa was able to connect with a left hook and followed up with a lead right. Nery countered with a three-punch combination that was met with Figueroa countering with a three-punch combination to the head and body. Then both fighters exchanged inside and Figueroa connected with a right to the chest and a left uppercut to the solar plexus and down went Nery.

Nery could not beat referee Tom Taylor’s count and was counted out at 2:18 of the seventh round.

Figueroa is now the WBC and WBA super bantamweight unified champion.

“It feels amazing,” said Figueroa. “I know everyone doubted me.”

Roman Wins Super Bantam Eliminator

Los Angeles-based Danny Roman (29-3-1, 10 KOs) battered Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza (25-4, 21 KOs) to win convincingly by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a super bantamweight fight.

After a slow start Roman began to out-maneuver the heavy-punching Espinoza and found openings for left uppercuts. Boy did he find openings.

“I concentrated on finding my distance,” said Roman.

Roman snapped Espinoza’s head back so many times it seemed that the Mexican fighter would not be able to last the full 10 rounds. But like most Mexican fighters he would not quit.

Espinoza tried every move in his catalogue but nothing worked against the superb technique used by Roman, who formerly held the IBF and WBA super bantamweight world titles. It was a perfect example of technical prowess defeating raw power.

The uppercut was the chosen weapon of choice and Roman exhibited how to throw it from various positions and angles. It landed perfectly every time as if targeted by a laser. Espinoza never could avoid the uppercut.

During the last three rounds Espinoza’s face was bloody and battered while Roman looked as if he were merely sparring. The end seemed near but the fighter from Tijuana battled until the final bell.

“I thought he was going to go down,” said Roman. “But he had a big heart.”

All three judges scored it for Roman at 97-93 and 98-92 twice.

“It’s a step closer to getting back my titles,” said Roman who lost the titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev a year ago by split decision. “I’m here to fight the best.”

Martinez Beats Burgos

Sacramento’s Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) discovered that Tijuana’s Juan Carlos Burgos (34-5-2, 21 KOs) still has plenty of fight remaining and showed it with a gutsy 10 rounds of back-and-forth battering. Still, Martinez won by unanimous decision though every round was competitive.

Boy was it competitive.

Martinez, 23, had a 10-year advantage in youth but was unable to convince Burgos. Every round saw savage combinations connect by each fighter, but the judges all felt that the Sacramento fighter was superior. All three scored it 99-91 for Martinez. The crowd booed the decision.

“I was landing the cleaner shots,” said Martinez. “He’s a tough competitor.”

Other Results

A super lightweight match saw Jose Valenzuela (8-0) knock out Nelson Hampton (7-4) in the first round.

Gabriela Fundora (1-0) won her pro debut by unanimous decision over Jazmin Valverde (2-2) in a four round flyweight match. Fundora is the sister of super welterweight contender Sebastian Fundora.

A lightweight bout was won by Justin Cardona (5-0) by first round knockout of James De Herrera (4-7).

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Buatsi Flattens Dos Santos in Manchester; Charr KOs Fraudulent Lovejoy in Cologne

Arne K. Lang

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In a Knockout of the Year candidate, rising light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) leveled Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, an unheralded Frenchman, in the fourth round, closing the show with a pulverizing right hand – and for good measure, touching him with another right as he fell. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for England, the Ghana-born Buatsi trained for two months in the California Bay Area under his new trainer Virgil Hunter and his American sojourn paid dividends.

Dos Santos, who found his way to boxing after serving three-and-a-half years in prison, was undefeated (15-0, 8 KOs) coming in, but hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He was knocked down earlier in the fight with a chopping right hand. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth when Buatsi put Dos Santos to sleep, and to his credit he did not celebrate but consoled his distraught victim.

Other Bouts

In a shocker, 31-year-old southpaw Jason Cunningham improved to 29-6 (6) with a unanimous decision over Gamal Yafai (18-2) who was making the first defense of the European bantamweight title that he won in Milan.

Cunningham had Yafai on the canvas three times — knocking him down with left hands in the second, fourth and sixth rounds — but Yafai, the younger brother of former 115-pound world title-holder Kal Yafai — wasn’t deterred and kept coming forward. In the end, however, Cunningham’s lead was too big for Yafai to overcome. The judges had it 115-110 and 114-111 x2 for the southpaw who was a consensus 10/1 underdog.

Super middleweight Lerrone Richards breezed to a lopsided 12-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni DeCarolis to snatch a vacant European title. Trained by Dave Coldwell, who previously handled Tony Bellew, Richards was content to rack up points and the one-dimensional DeCarolis, who was making his first start in 23 months, had no way to stop him.

The judges had it 120-108 and 119-109 twice. The London-born Richards, whose family roots are in Ghana, improved to 15-0 (3). This may have been the last rodeo for the 36-year-old DeCarolis who fell to 28-10-1.

Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) was fed a softie for his first defense of his European cruiserweight title in the form of 36-year-old Romanian Alexandru Jur who brought a 19-4 record but had defeated only four men with winning records. Except for a few brief moments, Jur showed little inclination to mix it up. McCarthy put Jur down with a body punch in round four and finished him off two rounds later with another body punch. The official time was 2:09.

McCarthy, who is of Irish and Jamaican descent, moves on to a date with fellow Brit Chris Billam-Smith. Jur lost for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Cologne

Credit Christopher Lovejoy for having the gumption to defy Don King who threatened legal action if Lovejoy went ahead with his match today with WBA “champion in recess” Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr. But the 37-year-old Lovejoy, who arrived in Germany all by himself, traveled a long way to destroy whatever credibility he may have had. Fighting off the grid, he had rung up 19 fast knockouts in 19 fights against 19 presumptive Tijuana taxi drivers.

Carrying 306 ½-pounds, the six-foot-five Lovejoy lasted less than two full rounds against Charr who was making his first ring appearance in 42 months. Lovejoy was counted out after being dropped with a volley of punches in the second round.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

The super bantamweight division was virtually unknown by most fans of prizefighting for the last decade.

Then Danny Roman arrived and re-booted the 122-pound division virtually by himself by challenging and defeating world champions from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) no longer holds the world titles but itches to regain his footing when he fights Ricardo Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday May 15. Showtime will televise the battle on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

“Everything I do in boxing from here on out is to regain my status as a world champion,” said the normally ultra-reserved Roman, 31.

Ironically, both Roman and Espinoza turned their careers around with numerous battles at boxing shows in Ontario, California. They entered as boys and emerged as battle-tested men.

For the last 20 years Thompson Boxing Promotions has been pumping out world champions and contenders at a furious rate despite their small size in Southern California. They do not pamper or cajole their prospects.

Both Roman and Espinoza suffered their first losses as professionals at Thompson Boxing’s bloody battles at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. But despite losing, they continued to learn and evolve. Now they meet in Los Angeles on the big stage.

When Roman lost to Japan’s Takashi Okada in 2011 and Juan Reyes in 2013, that could have derailed the Los Angeles-based fighter for good. Instead, he re-grouped and reloaded to become a unified world champion. Roman traveled to Japan and won the WBA super bantamweight world title by stoppage of Shun Kubo in 2017. A couple of years later after several defenses, he clashed with WBO super bantamweight titlist TJ Doheny to win an incredible battle by decision in Los Angeles. It was perhaps the Fight of the Year in 2019 and gained Roman the WBO belt.

Though Roman lost both the WBA and WBO titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, it was a disputed split decision. Many felt Roman was the true winner. So now he must battle back toward the top.

Espinoza also fought many bloody affairs at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario including his first two losses. He lost to Sam Rodriguez in 2016 and Christian Nieto in 2017. Then the power-punching fighter from Tijuana, Mexico knocked out 12 of 13 of his opponents to gain a world title fight that he lost in April 2019. Since then, he has returned to his winning ways and upset undefeated Brandon Valdes last year.

“Danny Roman has fought some really quality opponents that are high in the rankings, but this is my time. This is when I show that I can step up in competition and prove that I belong with the best,” said Espinoza who is very familiar with Roman.

The Tijuana fighter is a punching machine.

“This is not going to be an easy fight because I know my opponent is a tough fighter from Tijuana who is coming with everything he’s got. He’s got a lot of power, so I must be smart on how I throw my combinations,” said Roman who lives within 10 miles of the event. “I believe my experience in big fights is going to be the difference on May 15. I’m expecting a rough fight and I’m ready for an intense battle.”

Now the two veterans of the Ontario, California wars finally meet each other to see who advances toward a world title fight. They won’t have to look far. The main event pits two titleholders against each other.

Unification Battle for Super Bantam Belts

Mexico’s Luis Nery holds the WBC super bantamweight world title and faces Texan Brandon Figueroa who holds a version of the WBA super bantamweight title in the main event on the Dignity Health Sports Park card on Saturday. Showtime will televise.

Nery formerly held the bantamweight title too. But the Tijuana-based fighter had problems making weight and wisely moved up a weight division. So far, the extra pounds hasn’t been a problem.

The problem facing Nery is Figueroa has a solid chin.

Figueroa may look like a pretty boy but he fights like he’s ugly. The Weslaco, Texas native has firepower and a rock chin but does he have the skills to match Nery?

“I come forward. I bring the pressure and I’m definitely going to bring the power, the size and all the advantages I have to make sure that we give the fans a great show. I do respect him as a fighter but we’re just going to have to find out Saturday,” said Figueroa whose brother Omar Figueroa fought in the same venue two weeks ago.

Nery has quickness and agility to supplement his power. He also has experience in world class opposition and that’s something Figueroa lacks.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring,” said Nery, a boxer-slugger. “This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

The winner of this clash will hopefully meet the winner of Roman and Espinoza. That would really heat up the super bantamweight division to blue hot levels.

Some of my favorite fighters of the past occupied the super bantamweight division like Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez who twice fought in this same venue. His third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 was voted Fight of the Year for its brutal but spectacular display of super bantamweight power.

The winners of this quasi-super bantamweight tournament can equally achieve the same kind of greatness those former stars achieved. This is a good start.

Fights to Watch (All times are Pacific Coast)

Friday UFC Fight Pass 5:30 p.m. Heather Hardy (22-1) vs Jessica Camara (7-2); Melissa St. Vil (13-4-4) vs Olivia Gerula (18-18-4).

Friday Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Denilson Valtierra (14-0) vs Emanuel Lopez (30-12-1).

Sat. DAZN 10 a.m. Lerrone Richards (14-0) vs Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Luis Nery (31-0) vs Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1); Danny Roman (28-3-1) vs Ricardo Espinoza (25-3).

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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