Fight Preview: Juan Manuel Lopez v. Orlando Salido

As we've documented plenty, including noting the big betting odds against him, Orlando "Siri" Salido is not supposed to beat Juan Manuel Lopez tomorrow night in Puerto Rico.

Frankly speaking, nothing is in Salido's favor. Lopez (30-0, 27 KO) is three years younger at 27. He's fighting at home in Puerto Rico. The reach advantage for Salido (72" to 69") probably won't play into things, as Salido is hardly a great jab artiste. They're about the same height. Salido has been through a lot more rounds (303 to 127) as a professional, which I guess you could see as an advantage, but more likely it just equals more wear and tear.

Lopez's biggest advantage in this fight, and his biggest weapon overall, is his pure power. He's not fast. Far from it. Unlike constant comparison Yuriorkis Gamboa, Lopez's strength is plain and blunt. Gamboa's power comes from his speed, his beautiful combination punching. Lopez's power is just power, but to be fair, it's very good power. And when he does put punches together, he can be deadly.

The problem with Lopez, in my view, is that he seems to have actually lost a little bit in terms of technique. Compared to his rise at 122 pounds, up to his TKO-1 against Daniel Ponce de Leon that really put him on the map, he seems to have become at times overconfident. He believes in his own power to such a degree that he's sacrificed some of his boxing ability, and a lot of his defense. He was never going to be a defensive master, but he purposely leaves himself open now, it appears. In two of his three 2010 fights, we saw that. He was so open against Bernabe Concepcion that he had to pick himself up off the canvas before he finished off the Filipino, and against Rafael Marquez he went to war in a back-and-forth slugest that wasn't as easy as he could have made it, because he purposely made it a hard fight. In January, he was more laid back and precise, and decimated Steven Luevano.

Of course, all that makes Lopez a lot of fun to watch. He's vulnerable. We've seen him floored by Concepcion and rocked all over the ring by Rogers Mtagwa, his fight previous to Luevano. After the Mtagwa and Luevano fights, my thought would be that he'd do himself a favor fighting more like he did against Luevano. Lopez has not done that.

Salido (34-11-2, 22 KO) is no world-beater. He's a legitimate contender, can punch a little, and hung in for 12 against Gamboa. He split a pair of fights with Cristobal Cruz and years ago he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez. He's a tough customer who can punch a little bit. While he's been stopped five times in his career, he hasn't lost inside the distance since 2000, so we're talking an 11-year streak Lopez will try to end.

I'm not picking the upset here, because I don't think Salido is quite the right guy to beat Lopez. But I will say this: Lopez better not be as overconfident as he has seemed at times, because Salido is a smarter, better fighter than Concepcion or Mtagwa. And if those guys can trouble Lopez even a little (and Mtagwa troubled him a lot), then Salido can trouble him plenty enough to score an upset. A weekend after plenty of surprises, this one has an outside chance at topping them all. But I'm still going with the favorite. Pick: Juan Manuel Lopez UD-12

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Photo by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

In the co-feature, Luis Cruz (17-0, 14 KO) takes a big risk against late replacement opponent Martin Honorio (29-5-1, 15 KO). Cruz was set to take a big step up in class against Roman "Rocky" Martinez, but instead faces Honorio, in what is also a new test. I've seen Honorio plenty against a wide range of opponents, and overall he's left a mixed impression. He was good against John Molina in November 2009, taking Molina's "0," but I've also seen him waxed in one by a dialed-in Robert Guerrero. Sort of a middle ground fight for him was probably his 2005 decision loss to Steven Luevano, where he was competitive. Cruz has good power on paper, and a win for him here gives him decent standing at 130 pounds. I'll go with the home fighter, but I think this is a pick'em. Pick: Luis Cruz TKO-10

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