Orlando Salido isn't afraid to fight Juan Manuel Lopez on the road in Puerto Rico. After all, he says, he has nothing to lose in this fight.
"I have everything to gain and nothing to lose, all the pressure is on him," says the Mexican veteran. "He is the champion. He's fighting at home and everyone expects him to win. Let's see if he can deliver. I did not come all this way to lay down for him.
"I do believe that he is the best featherweight in the world and a great champion, but he also likes to fight and that will be to my advantage. We both have power and will test each other all night."
Salido (34-11-2, 22 KO) has been a pro since 1996, debuting about eight months before his 16th birthday in Mexicali, Mexico. He lost that fight, stopped in four, and his career didn't start out in a manner that would scream "future contender." In Salido's first 24 fights, he went just 14-8-2. In 2002, his career started looking up with wins over previously unbeaten Lamont Pearson and Puerto Rican veteran Carlos Gerena. In 2004, Salido was Juan Manuel Marquez's first opponent after Marquez's first war with Manny Pacquiao.
Along the way, Salido has probably been best utilized as a top-of-the-line "opponent." He split a pair of fights with Mexican brawler Cristobal Cruz in 2008 and 2010, and last September pushed Yuriorkis Gamboa all 12 rounds. That last fight was his biggest TV exposure in the U.S., and means that fans will instinctively compare that performance to what he does on Saturday with Lopez, Gamboa's biggest would-be rival.
"From fighting Gamboa and from what I have seen of Lopez, I believe that Lopez is the more well-rounded boxer," says Salido. "Gamboa still fights like an amateur at times and he is very fast, but Juanma looks like he has more power. I guess I find out more on Saturday night."
Salido also believes that he's had a superior camp this time around, and that he's better-prepared for Lopez than he was for Gamboa. "I did not have a very good camp for the Gamboa fight because I went to Mexico City to train and I just never got comfortable. This time I trained in Nogales and Ciudad Obregon and feel a lot better about my preparation. That's what I did for the Cristobal Cruz fight when I won the [IBF] title and that's what I should have done for the Gamboa fight."
Now 30, Salido knows that opportunities in boxing aren't endless. "This is a great opportunity for me. I worked very hard for nearly two and half months and just feel great. My confidence is sky high for this fight. I know this could be my last chance and I want to take advantage of it."
Salido also expects a war in this renewal of the Mexico-Puerto Rico boxing rivalry.
"I know it will be a war and that it will be tough for both us. I know Juanma comes with everything in the first few rounds and I will have to be smart and stay focused at all times.
"I believe that the longer the fight goes it will be to my advantage. I know that he is not the same fighter in the end that he is in the beginning."
After the jump: More photos from Salido's media workout.
All photos by PR Best Boxing Promotions / JOSÉ PÉREZ