Orlando Salido vs. Orlando Cruz: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2013

Orlando Salido vs. Orlando Cruz: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    This Saturday night, veteran Mexican ring warrior Orlando Salido will attempt to become a world champion again as he faces Orlando Cruz for the vacant WBO featherweight belt. The fight will be the featured undercard bout on the Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley pay-per-view. 

    Featherweight has been a weight class in flux during 2013. Three of the four recognized alphabet soup titles traded hands during the year.

    Cruz began this year as the WBO champ, but he suffered three knockdowns and lost a Round 8 technical decision to Mikey Garcia last January. Expect him to go all-out to earn back his title against Cruz.  

Tale of the Tape

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    Per Boxrec     Orlando Salido     Orlando Cruz
    Record:     39-12-2, 27 KOs     20-2-1, 10 KOs
    Height:     5'6"     5'4"
    Length:     67"     65"
    Weight:     126 pounds     126 pounds
    Age:     32      32
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Ciudad Obregon, Sonora     San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Rounds:     351     126

    These two fighters are the same age, but Salido has vastly more experience. He's been a professional for 17 years, since he was 15. 

    Salido's got height and reach, and he'll know how to take advantage of them.

    Salido has a fat tally in the loss column for a world-class fighter, but that's just a testament to the hard roads he traveled on his way up the ranks. He dropped eight fights as a teenager, when it would seem nobody was really looking out for his long-term professional interests. 

Main Storylines

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    As mentioned in the previous slide, Orlando Salido served one of the toughest apprenticeships of almost any current top-ranked fighter. But while suffering eight losses in his first five years as a professional, he simultaneously developed into a legitimate world-title contender. 

    Since 2001, he's been in the ring with some of the best fighters in the world. He made his first title challenge against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004, losing by unanimous decision.

    In April 2011 he was largely viewed as an opponent when he faced then-unbeaten WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez. At the time, "Juan Ma" was viewed as among the most dangerous pound-for-pound punchers in the sport, but Salido outboxed him and beat him up, ultimately winning by Round 8 TKO.

    Salido won the rematch in March 2012, this time by Round 10 TKO. Last January he dropped his belt to rising star Mikey Garcia, who took the title by Round 8 technical decision. 

    Garcia has moved up to super featherweight, so now Salido gets his shot to reclaim the vacated crown.

    He'll have to get by Orlando Cruz to do it. 

    Cruz represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics. He developed slowly as a professional but remained undefeated until 2009, when he lost by stoppage in back-to-back fights against Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce De Leon. 

    In October 2012, Cruz became the first openly gay active professional athlete in North America. This has little relevance to the fight, but the fact that Cruz has chosen to live his life openly indicates mental toughness and self-confidence.

Strengths

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    Orlando Salido is a crafty, hard-nosed veteran fighter. He's got a very good overhand right, and he excels at lobbing it from outside range when he anticipates an opening. 

    He is durable and unafraid, which allows him to operate with a high level of success in the pocket. He has traded exchanges with some of the division's biggest punchers in recent years. 

    He stays calm, picks off a lot of punches and eats what he can't, then fires back with his own accurate combination punching. Salido has some craft, but he's a brawler at heart. He stalks opponents and leads his attacks with unpredictable punches from all kinds of angles.

     

    Orlando Cruz has good footwork and punches accurately. This gives him sneaky power. He's able to whip an unexpected and unseen punch while moving. Those out-of-nowhere punches can score big.

    Cruz is is a strong defensive fighter, and Salido has had some trouble with the type.  

Weaknesses

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    Orlando Salido is overly reliant on throwing wide punches, and he fires them from out of range and in aggressive bunches. So he's relatively easy to counter if a fighter is willing to hang tight in range with him. 

    Against a good defensive fighter, he's not even always that tough to avoid. His unpredictable leaping lead punches can be very effective against a fellow brawler who is looking to get off first.

    Patient boxers have been able to catch him coming in with consistency. 

     

    Orlando Cruz doesn't always sit down on his punches enough to make them truly significant. Salido will walk through that kind of punch. 

    Cruz fought in the 2000 Olympics and turned professional right afterward. His career has developed slowly. He's taken some shellackings since he stepped up his level of competition in 2009 and '10. 

    Cruz is an experienced professional now, but Salido is a former world champion who has been in with some of the best in the world.

Orlando Salido Will Win If...

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    Orlando Salido should look to mug Orlando Cruz from the opening bell. He's got a two-inch advantage in reach, which I think will help him if he comes forward behind a lead overhand right, thrown from about 11 o'clock.

    Salido needs to take away Cruz's space to move and slow him down. Cruz uses his legs a lot as a fighter, so Salido should hammer at his body, looking to drain the strength from them. 

    In the clinch, Salido should lean his taller frame into Cruz as another tactic to sap his energy. 

    Cruz was stopped in both of his losses. Salido should look to chin-check him as quickly as possible. 

Orlando Cruz Will Win If...

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    Orlando Cruz is going to need to box if he wants to win this fight. He's got to work behind a busy jab, and he's got to use movement to stay out of Salido's range while looking to create the angle for a counterattack. 

    Salido will likely be relentless in attacking Cruz's body, and Cruz will need to minimize his effectiveness if he wants to keep his legs fresh long enough to win the fight. He's going to need to continually circle out of range, but he's got to let his hands go aggressively when he counters.

    Cruz needs to be willing and ready to follow up with a flurry when he scores a good punch. He can't just stick and move all night because Salido is not going to be discouraged by the occasional stick. 

    He's going to have to take advantage of any opportunity he can get to score heavily on Salido, even if it means taking a slight risk.

Prediction

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    Orlando Salido has struggled at times with technical boxers. But I think he's too physically powerful for Orlando Cruz. I don't think Cruz will be able to hurt Salido enough to keep outboxing him all night. 

    Cruz will probably win rounds early and may be up on the cards going into the second half of the fight. But by Round 6, I predict he will also have begun to show the signs of absorbing a physical pounding. 

    In the second half of the fight, Salido will begin to take control and score with increasing ferocity. I don't think this one ends up going the distance. 

    Salido by Round 8 TKO.