Orlando Salido will make the first defense of his newly won WBO Featherweight Championship on Saturday night when he takes on former amateur standout Vasyl Lomachenko at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Salido, a three-time world champion from Mexico, is one of the most deceptive fighters in all of boxing. His record isn't pretty, but he's tough, rugged and will not cede his title without putting up a fight.
Lomachenko, quite possibly the greatest amateur fighter ever, will be competing in just his second professional fight, but he's already being groomed for superstardom. Despite his inexperience in the pro ranks, he's the favorite to walk out of the Alamodome with the belt around his waist.
Here we break down the fight and the fighters for you.
This is your complete preview and prediction for Salido vs. Lomachenko for the WBO Featherweight Championship.
All stats and information per BoxRec.
|Orlando Salido||Vasyl Lomachenko|
|Record||40-12-2, 28 KO||1-0, 1 KO|
|Weight||126 pounds (last fight)||125|
|Hometown||Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico||Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine|
|Last Fight||KO 7 Orlando Cruz (10/12/13)||KO 4 Jose Ramirez (10/12/13)|
He may walk into the ring on Saturday night as the champion, but he's really there as an opponent with a title he's expected to lose. That places the rugged 33-year-old Mexican in the role of spoiler, and given his past history, you can bet he's just fine with that.
Salido captured the vacant WBO Featherweight Championship, his third 126-pound title, in October by steamrolling Orlando Cruz on the Bradley vs. Marquez undercard. His overall record may have a distinct blue-collar look to it, but don't underestimate him. He's 26-4 in his past 30 fights, and he's an easy out for nobody.
But, still, Salido must be feeling a bit like Top Rank's sacrificial lamb at this point. Last January, he was set up to lose his WBO title to rising star Mikey Garcia at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. He did, and barely a year later, he's expected to do the same thing against yet another future Top Rank star.
He is considered by many to be the best amateur fighter in the history of boxing, and you'd have a very difficult time making a counterpoint to that argument. His promoter Bob Arum, per The Ring Magazine , says that question is settled, and he's been around boxing for nearly five decades.
The 26-year-old Ukrainian dominated the amateur ranks, posting an absurd 396-1 record, per BoxRec, and twice avenged his lone defeat. He captured Olympic gold in Beijing and London and is a four-time winner of the World Amateur Championships.
Lomachenko will be attempting to win a world title in just his second professional fight. Salido is definitely a world-class fighter—still easily one of the best featherweights on the planet—and this represents a huge leap into the deep end of the pool.
Salido is a tough customer. He's one of the best featherweights in the world, and despite his 12 career defeats, it takes a special breed of fighter to deal with his style. The Mexican is probably best described as a pressure fighter. He likes to keep the fight on the inside and won't hesitate to rough you up a bit.
He has a lethal right hand and gradually imposes his will on an opponent as the fight goes along. Sometimes that means pounding away at the body, and sometimes it means engaging in some of the less savory parts of the sport.
Salido is a pro's pro, and he has a huge experience edge—at least on this level—over Lomachenko. He's very difficult to fight, and he knows all of the tricks—both legal and illegal—in the book. He won't hesitate to use any or all of them in order to break an opponent down.
He didn't seem to have any of the customary struggles that we usually see when fighters jump from the amateurs to the pro ranks. The best thing you can say about him—granted, after only one fight—is that he just looks like a fighter.
Against Jose Ramirez—not a world-beater for sure, but still a 25-3 foe who had never been stopped—Lomachenko showed a tremendous amount of speed and force on his punches. He was like a snake, coiled and ready to strike with great speed at the shortest notice.
Lomachenko has great power, particularly to the body, and he has the look of a world-class defensive fighter. He anticipates punches well and either gets out of Dodge or has a counter ready to fire at a second's notice.
He has been through the wringer more than his fair share of times. It's quite possible that his best fighting days are behind him. He remains a world-class fighter and world champion until someone proves otherwise, but with 54 professional fights already on his ledger, he's getting a bit long in the tooth.
He was relatively noncompetitive in losing his WBO title to Mikey Garcia last January in his most recent title defense and wasn't really challenged much by Orlando Cruz when he got the belt back in October. So we don't know how much he has left in the tank.
Salido also has a bad tendency to wing his punches wildly. Against a sharp, crisp operator like Lomachenko, that could be a recipe for disaster.
Lomachenko has only stepped into the ring as a professional fighter on one occasion. He deserves credit for immediately stepping into the fire—he was scheduled to go 10 rounds against a solid opponent his first time out—but he's facing a whole new level of challenge in Salido.
The Ukrainian has only four professional rounds under his belt, and he might need to go a full 12 in order to capture his first world championship. That's a lot to ask for a fighter in just his second professional fight.
Lomachenko has also never faced an opponent as rugged, and you could even say dirty, as Salido. The experience gap here is huge, and if we find ourselves in a close fight down the stretch, that could pay huge dividends for the champion.
Orlando Salido needs to make this a very physical—perhaps dirty—fight if he wants to retain his title. His style is built on pressure—both physical and mental—and he needs to remember that he'll be in there with a foe who, for all of his amateur experience, has never seen anything like this as a professional.
The Mexican needs to attack early, keep the fight at close quarters and rough Lomachenko up on the inside to get him off his game. If he allows him to box effectively and fight at a safe distance, that completely negates all of his advantages.
And it gives him very little chance of winning the fight.
Something Salido needs to guard himself against is being too wild with his punches. He has a bad tendency to wing them at his opponent, and against someone as quick and precise as Lomachenko, that seems to be inviting trouble.
If Salido can impose his will and attack his foe on the inside, he has an excellent chance of breaking him down and retaining his title. That's just the way he fights, and he's not going to change it now. He needs to bring his foe into deeper waters than he's seen in his—sterling amateur but still nascent professional—career.
Vasyl Lomachenko will need to weather an early storm and be prepared to fight 12 hard rounds if he hopes to lift the WBO Featherweight Championship from Orlando Salido. The Mexican champion is nothing like he's ever seen before, and his experience and toughness are huge advantages.
The Ukrainian is a much more polished fighter, and he possesses several tactical advantages. Where Salido is rugged and a tad crude, Lomachenko is much more precise, faster with his punches and should be able to catch the champion coming in when he's wild with his shots.
Lomachenko can definitely hurt you, but he's better off making this into a boxing match rather than a fight. He needs to keep Salido at bay, limit his offensive opportunities and make him pay when he lets his hands go.
If he can do all of that, he'll eventually break him down and win a decision or stop him late.
Vasyl Lomachenko sure wants to make an impression. Why else would he seek out an opponent as tough and dangerous as Orlando Salido in just his second professional fight?
It's hard to dismiss many of the advantages the Mexican champion will carry with him into the ring. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see Lomachenko have a rough go of it in the first few rounds as he attempts to adapt to his opponent's aggressive, roughhouse tactics.
But as the fight goes on, Lomachenko will—with increasing regularity—use the champion's aggression against him. His ability to make Salido miss, and make him pay, will prove decisive.
When Salido mounts an attack, he comes in with wide, looping punches. That type of style is much more suited for facing a fellow brawler.
But Lomachenko isn't a brawler. He's a precise, tactical fighter who should have little problem avoiding those shots and returning fire.
After taking a couple of rounds to adjust, the Ukrainian challenger will begin to catch Salido whenever he lets his hands go. He'll begin his attack downstairs before moving it north. As he begins to score with more frequency, Lomachenko will see Salido's offensive output drop dramatically in the second half of the fight.
That will lead to either a late stoppage or unanimous-decision victory.
Lomachenko UD 12 Salido (117-111)