Chris Farina/Top Rank
Orlando Salido has the title going into tomorrow night's featherweight main event against Mikey Garcia on HBO, but the Mexican veteran is once again considered the underdog by bookies. Tom Craze breaks it down.
Orlando Salido (+186), one half of the main event on this weekend's HBO tripleheader, is no stranger to an underdog tag.
It's probably just as well - despite two defences of his WBO featherweight strap already in the books, a significantly deeper resume in terms of quality of opposition faced, and a pair of decisive, defining stoppage wins over a heavily-favoured, previously unbeaten two-weight titlist still fresh in the memory - because, on Saturday night, he's going to have to pull the betting upset all over again.
On the back on those two memorable fights - and excellent stoppage wins - over Juanma Lopez, it somehow feels almost as though Salido's role has always been one of shocking the upstart, of pulling the upset over the men with more hype, with more acclaim, perhaps those with the bigger name. Before Lopez though, Salido's was a familiar bridesmaid's tale, consistently in the discussion but, ultimately, struggling to best those at the divisional zenith: defeats to the likes of Marquez and Gamboa were certainly no disgrace, but the glimpse of what would have otherwise been a career-best win over Robert Guerrero certainly was, with a then-unanimous points win overturned as Salido failed a post-fight drug test.
The Mexican, though, has gone 12-2 since, outboxed by Gamboa (a huge -1400 favourite, Salido +700) but, simultaneously, giving him plenty to think about, and dropping a split-decision to Cristobal Cruz, a result he convincingly reversed in the rematch just months later, making a mockery of his +120 odds in the process. Going into the first Lopez fight, Salido was a considerable outsider at around +600, with the highly-fancied Puerto Rican listed at -875 and widely expected to do a similar job to that his apparent rival-in-waiting, Gamboa, carried out just six months prior. Salido went on, of course, to stop Lopez in eight rounds in an outstanding fight, yet it wasn't enough to fully convince the layers that lightning would strike twice in a rematch. There was a significant shift in the prices, but Lopez still went off in the region of -200 - a firm favourite, but not overwhelmingly so. It took Salido two rounds longer than before, but again Lopez was well beaten inside the distance in what was a brutal war and one of the best fights of last year.
The experience gained in with the likes of Marquez, Gamboa and Guerrero means that Mikey Garcia (-163) is unlikely to bring anything to the table that Salido hasn't already come up against. The problem for him though, is that he hasn't always dealt with that kind of skillset well - Salido can be troubled by movement and those opting to fight at range - and, further, it poses a question: does Garcia really belong in the same kind of conversation as those names already mentioned?
The chances are that it's too early to say, but Salido is the very antithesis of the type of paper champion that we've seen a blue-chip kind of young talent like Garcia be fed en route to a first world title. From what we know about each man, and their respective knockout records, it would be reasonable to suggest that this could have plenty of action, and certainly it'd seem that pulling Garcia into a slugfest is Salido's best chance of success here. Though against a generally much lower level of resistance than Salido is likely to provide, we've seen Garcia finish well - and certainly his 26 KOs from 30 fights indicates, at least statistically, that this is man not content to jab and move for the duration. That mindset may change with a bigger threat in front of him, with a belt on the line. Salido, too, has won five straight inside the distance. His five stoppage defeats can - at least from this viewpoint - be largely disregarded, having come from 1996-2000 as a novice. This is a different, much-improved fighter. With this in mind, there's some appeal in the +110 that the fight doesn't go the full twelve rounds, and should the fight play out with a similar level of intensity to either of the Lopez battles, it looks a reasonable option.
Garcia backers will take a close look at the +260 that he continues his stoppage sequence, while another KO for Salido against a much-touted, fresher man feels more likely than the Mexican grinding out a points nod (+450). That's available at +500 and could be an attractive option, while the layers suggest that the Garcia decision is the most likely outcome at even money. The draw rounds off the betting at +2500.
Gennady Golovkin (-2000) is this week's shorty, and he's a massive favourite over Gabriel Rosado (+1100), who steps up from 154 to take on the Kazakh, who may well the heir to Sergio Martinez' middleweight throne.
Also on the HBO undercard, Juan Carlos Burgos (-125) holds marginal favouritism over Rocky Martinez (+125).