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Orlando Cruz Must Put Together Perfect Fight to Top Orlando Salido

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Orlando Cruz works out during a training session for his upcoming fight against Orlando 'Siri' Salido at Mendez Boxing Gym on September 24, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Steven CookContributor IIIDecember 27, 2016

Featherweight boxer Orlando "El Fenomeno" Cruz is heading into the biggest fight of his career, and it'll take a perfect performance to top Orlando "Siri" Salido and raise the WBO featherweight title belt. 

The 32-year-old faces off for the vacant title in the final undercard bout before Saturday night's main event of Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez.

It's shaping up to be a closely followed showdown for more than just the in-ring implications. Cruz became boxing's first openly gay athlete after coming out a little more than a year ago, per ESPN.

In honor of both breast cancer awareness and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement, Cruz will sport pink gloves and rainbow-colored shorts for the contest, according to Yahoo! Sports

But what will it take for him to pull off the upset against Salido inside the ring?

Simply put, it will take a lot. Both boxers are the same age at 32, but Salido has a massive experience advantage. He has notched 351 career rounds to Cruz's 126 and has 27 knockouts—more than Cruz has wins (20).

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 11:  Boxer Miguel Cotto (C) stands between boxers Orlando Cruz (L) and Orlando Salido as they pose at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas during the official weigh-in for their bout on October 11, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz a
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

At 5'4", El Fenomeno is two inches shorter than Salido and also has a two-inch deficit in total reach. 

However, the Puerto Rican looks to be riding a hot streak of four straight victories. Plus, his southpaw style could pose problems for the bigger Salido.

But Siri has proved to be a world-class boxer in the ring, going up against notable boxers such as Juan Manuel Marquez and Mikey Garcia.

Salido possessed the WBO featherweight title from March 2012 until early on this year, so he's no stranger to the spotlight and playing for the belt. Meanwhile, Cruz's only title-fight experience came in two losses and a short-lived tenure as the IBA featherweight champion. 

Needless to say, the cards are stacked against El Fenomeno on the biggest stage of his professional career. He'll have to overcome all of that with a perfect fight.

Cruz will have to neutralize his size disadvantage by being the more energetic fighter. Not only that, but he needs to use that energy to be effective, landing shots on Siri's chin early and often and getting him off his confident game plan.

If he doesn't do that early on, it could be a long 12 rounds—or fewer—for Cruz.

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