Is Orlando Salido vs Mikey Garcia the pick'em fight it seems to be on paper? Four members of the BLH staff combine to come to the conclusion that it is, with split picks for the bout. Who wins tomorrow in NYC?
People say Mikey Garcia has all the tools to beat Orlando Salido. For one, he's the better classical boxer. Although they're about the same height Garcia fights taller and is also longer than Salido. Garcia is a counter puncher and Salido is a high volume, come forward brawler who often leans over his front knee and squares up after throwing his right hand. Mikey Garcia hasn't given any indications he has a glass chin and his power is certainly good enough to keep any featherweight off him if he lands flush. People are right. Garcia does have all the tools to beat Orlando Salido. Garcia is patient, has power, and is an adept counter puncher. These same traits are shared by the great Juan Manuel Marquez, and he took Salido to school.
But, Garcia certainly is no Juan Manuel Marquez yet. Furthermore, Salido is clearly a better fighter today than he was then. Back then Marquez was coming off the 1st fight with the signature rival of his career (Manny Pacquiao) while Salido (despite having 8 losses and 2 draws) had yet to face anyone remotely near JMM's level. Now Garcia is in Salido's old shoes. Sometimes all the natural talent and physical advantages in the world can't overcome experience. So will Garcia seize the moment or get caught up in it?
All I can tell you is that Garcia said he thinks this will be a fight of the year candidate. And I don't know about you, but, I never found Mikey to be particularly exciting. Of course, Salido could always force it to be a fight of the year by just doing his thing. But Mikey's comment seems to suggest that he's going to be more willing to engage than usual. That's probably a mistake. And because I don't see any major difference in the hand or foot speeds of Garcia and Salido, a really exciting fight should favor Salido stylistically. Salido already has the experience advantage. If he's got strategy in the bag too, Garcia is in trouble.
That being said, I seriously doubt Mikey is going to do anything other than what he's accustomed to doing at this point. I expect Garcia will win more rounds no matter what (justified or otherwise). Provided he keeps himself out of a war, he'll last the distance. Mikey might knock Salido down a few times along the way, but the durable vet will get up and keep fighting his ass off. Garcia by unanimous decision.
I think Mikey Garcia is talented and has the goods. I also think he might be taking too big a leap here. Garcia, 25, is coming a long way up in the world. While the 32-year-old Salido has 11 career losses, we know that he's a lot better than the guys that Mikey has been fighting. Actually, I find it a bit strange that Garcia has never been criticized the way other hyped prospects have been; are the likes of Matt Remillard, Jonathan Barros, Rafael Guzman, Olivier Lontchi, etc., really better than what a lot of other hyped, young fighters deal with? I submit not.
I have reservations about Garcia, the sort that can only be dealt with by fighting well against this sort of opponent. And that's fine -- boxing is promoted in such a way that skepticism is healthy with guys who are supposed to be Next Big Things. What I know about Garcia in the ring is he's a good counter puncher, he's strong, and he stays within himself. But I don't know if he can look so patient and schooled if he's got a guy like Salido in front of him, rather than Bernabe Concepcion. Salido has a sturdy chin and can drag opponents into fights they don't really want. I don't have any clue, yet, how Garcia can handle someone like Salido, who is as good mentally as he is physically. Past opponents were there for Garcia to beat them -- Salido is here to win.
This might seem like criticism of Garcia. It's not. In fact, it's praise for the young fighter. He's been matched carefully, and now he's going after the top featherweight in the world, arguably, and at worst, the best featherweight in the world who will actually fight him. I'm cautiously picking Salido to get the duke here; I think he might be able to goad Garcia into the fight that he wants, and confuse the kid a bit with his intelligent aggression, perhaps making Mikey a little tense, even trigger shy. Either way, it should be a hell of a fight. Salido by decision.
This fight ticks the boxes. A solid, tried-and-tested clash of styles: check. A classic match-up of youth - Garcia, the unbeaten, KO-streaking prospect - versus experience - Salido, the gnarled, rugged 53-fight, 11-loss veteran: check. World title, HBO main event, the first real ‘big fight' of the year: check.
It shouldn't disappoint. It's the twist, though, that makes this really interesting. Given the formula above, it feels almost as though the roles should be reversed, that Salido should perhaps be the litmus test drafted in for a hungrier, younger, champion who's somehow picked up a belt throughout his rise through the pro ranks.
Salido will thrive on being underestimated here, on once again being overlooked - and he has every chance here - but, ultimately, it's difficult to back against the Oxnard camp at the moment. Should he stay out of harm's way and box to the gameplan, Garcia should claim a consensus 116-112-type decision in what's likely to be a fine, competitive contest. Garcia by decision.
I'm a little surprised that Salido is the underdog in this one. Garcia is technically pretty good and certainly hits hard, but his attack is a little too sporadic and I think the cagey veteran should be able to out-hustle him. That's not to say that Garcia can't win, but I think he's going to need to land something very big to do it, and even then, Salido's a tough guy to keep down.
I'll take Salido by 116-112 type scores. Salido by decision.
Final Tally: Orlando Salido 2, Mikey Garcia 2.