How great is boxing this month? Seriously. Three weekends in a row we've seen Fight of the Year candidates, we've been treated to big upsets and stirring performances all month, and there's still a great card coming next weekend with the Showtime bantamweights. But let's get into why we're saying that now.
Tonight in Puerto Rico, Juan Manuel Lopez's luck ran out at the furious hands of Mexican rival Orlando Salido. Salido (35-11-2, 23 KO) stopped Lopez (30-1, 27 KO) in the eighth round of a terrific battle, finally becoming the fighter to not just hurt and knock down and rattle Lopez around the ring, but to force a referee's hand and earn a stoppage win. We've seen Lopez in trouble against Rogers Mtagwa and Bernabe Concepcion, hurt against Rafael Marquez, and now he just couldn't survive another determined fighter.
It's by far the biggest win in the career of the 30-year-old Salido, who outlanded, outworked, and just bombed out the Puerto Rican slugger tonight. Salido's right hand was deadly from all angles, as Lopez just could not stop it from landing. Whether it was a chopping right, a long overhand right, sweeping from the side, or straight down the pipe, Salido was landing it. He also made his left hook a weapon as the fight went along.
What also made a difference tonight was that Lopez just couldn't use his own power. His recuperative powers were there. He hung in hurt for a good while. But he couldn't get Salido to back off, couldn't really turn the tide on him. That made all the difference. Salido was not going to be denied.
As for the stoppage, it's going to be talked about. I thought the referee picked an odd moment to step in. A left hook from Salido had just landed, but Lopez was throwing back, and that's going to bother a lot of people. But at the same time, Lopez was staggering around the ring for that entire round. I think if anything letting him continue delayed the inevitable, but of course you never know. But me, I just don't see JuanMa getting out of that round tonight. He was taking too many big shots. At some point, the referee would have had to intervene, and it wasn't far off the way Salido was walking through him and battering him.
Hats off to Orlando Salido for this huge upset win tonight, continuing a killer month for the sweet science.
In the co-feature, Puerto Rican Luis Cruz stayed undefeated with an unanimous decision win over Martin Honorio on scores of 100-90, 98-92 and 96-94. The first two scores are said to have been very wide, and most early reports I've seen indicate that Honorio had at least an argument for winning the fight. Honorio falls to 29-6-1 (15 KO), while Cruz improves to 18-0 (14 KO).