Buzz Garnic Jr.‘s Round 2 boxing gym is tucked away in the woods of California, Pennsylvania. It also has a nice living space attached and many notable fighters including Roy Jones Jr. and Kelly Pavlik have stayed there.
Most fighters come in set up training camp and leave after a six to eight week period but not local lightweight Rod “Lightning” Salka (12-0 3 KO). He has been at the camp for about a year now.
He is currently preparing to fight Buffalo fighter Guillermo Sanchez (11-2-1 5 KO) at the 26th Annual Erie Boxing Classic on Wednesday November 28, starting at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Hotel (10th and State Street) in Erie, PA.
This will be the second straight main event fight for Salka. He was the main event for the June 30th fight at the Heinz Field V.I.P. Tent.
Salka had a solid amateur career that spanned about 50 fights and included four local Golden Gloves titles. He had the chance to fight in the national Golden Gloves but it never worked out.
“I never went to the nationals, I could of a couple times but it always conflicted with a week that I would have had to taken off school so I just never went.”
He decided to turn pro in 2007 after his amateur friends Jesse Lubash and Mike Strauss turned pro.
“When Jesse and Mikey and those guys were going to turn pro. I was with them in the amateurs the whole time and I figured now is as good as a time as any to try it out but there really isn’t any seeing what its like and trying it out in this sport.”
“You're either in or you're not and I was in.” Salka finally turned pro on July 21 of 2007 at the age of 24. He won his first fight by a majority decision over Federico Flores Jr. and hasn’t looked back since.
Although he has only 12 fights at the age of 27 he has averaged about four fights a year and was out of the ring for eight months due to various issues.
Salka would like to have 20 fights by the end of next year and may have the chance to get there since his manager just signed a 16 fight deal with Eurosport.
Another thing that jumps out to most people is his three knockout victories in his 12 wins but that doesn’t indicate a lack of power.
He described himself as more of a counter punching boxer who likes to jab and move a lot and would rather outbox you for eight rounds than get into a brawl.
“That’s just the way I fight. They kinda get mad at me about it. I never really was a boxer in the amateurs and stuff but I usually came forward a lot more. I somehow just developed into that maybe being around the guys I was round or whatever.
Pretty much every fight I been in, well short of that last one where I hurt my hand bad, I had the guy down or hurt real bad but never got him out. I need to improve a lot on finishing people when I have them hurt.”
Although Sanchez hasn’t won a fight in his last three; he was 11-0 at one point. He has lost to highly regarded prospects Dominic Salcido and undefeated Adrien Broner.
Salka knows Sanchez is a crafty fighter with a good amateur background but said that he just doesn’t show up sometimes and does just enough to lose which is what he did against Salcido.
Sanchez isn’t a stranger to Erie either as this will be his third time fighting there and he has won the previous two fights by knockout. The fact he is from Buffalo could make this fight have a hometown feel for him.
Salka knows that Sanchez is fast but he thinks that he is the stronger fighter and is going to take advantage of it.
Once they get into the ring Salka doesn’t want to let Sanchez get his confidence back. “ I might just go after him and try to get him out fast. He has bad confidence so I never want to let him in the fight.”
“It depends what fighter shows up.” If you don’t have anything to do on the day before Thanksgiving it will be worth your time to take a trip to Erie to see if lightning is going to strike.
This was originally published for www.kissingthecanvas.com.