And another one. 2017 has seen a long list of notable fighters announce retirements, with Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Wladimir Klitschko, Tim Bradley, and Shane Mosley all officially announcing their departures from the sport. Will they stick? Not all of them, surely. Maybe none of them!
"As they say, father time is undefeated. All the wars I had caught up with me. I am leaving the ring knowing that I gave the fans as great a fight that I can give them. I hope they enjoyed it."
In last week’s matchup preview for Salido-Roman, I said that Salido’s style made him vulnerable even in a fight where he was the favorite, not to mention the fact that he was getting up there in years. He did wind up losing.
More importantly, though, I talked about Salido (44-14-4, 31 KO) being the type of fighter whose career may somewhat get lost to time as the years roll on, as new generations who didn’t see him live become louder voices in the boxing community, but he’ll be fondly remembered by those of us who did watch his career.
He had far from a perfect record. He turned pro in Mexico on March 1, 1996, and lost his debut by TKO to a fellow named Ivan Cazarez, who was also making his pro debut. In fact, Salido was just 14-8-2 by 2002, when he beat prospect Lamont Pearson, who was 17-0-1 at the time, and his career found some momentum.
Later in 2002, he beat Carlos Gerena, a former world title challenger from Puerto Rico. In 2004, he challenged for the IBF featherweight title, losing clearly to the aforementioned Juan Manuel Marquez, one of the great fighters of the generation.
After a hard start to his career, it would have been easy to write Salido off as a guy who then got on a bit of a run, stepped up in class, and lost, and probably would never be back in that position.
Instead, Salido flourished. He beat Rogers Mtagwa in a title eliminator in 2006, and then defeated Robert Guerrero, a hot young fighter, for the IBF featherweight belt in November of that year. The win was overturned when Salido reportedly tested positive for steroids, a controversial ruling that he denies to this day.
He won another eliminator in 2007 over Hector Julio Avila, but lost again in a world title challenge to Cristobal Cruz in 2008, before finally claiming that belt for real in 2010, beating Cruz in a rematch.
Immediately, Salido was set up to face unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa, who held the WBA belt. That fight came just four months after Salido beat Cruz. Gamboa won, but Salido pushed it all 12 rounds and made a fight of it.
Through all of that, Salido’s career still hadn’t reached the heights it would. He was back in April 2011 for a stunning war with Juan Manuel Lopez, where the veteran Salido stopped the undefeated Puerto Rican star in the eighth round of a true war, winning the WBO featherweight title.
Salido was right back in action three months later, beating Kenichi Yamaguchi in Mexico, and again to close 2011 in December, when he beat Weng Haya in a fight where the always vulnerable Salido went down twice before scoring an eighth round stoppage.
Then, it was time for the rematch in March 2012, and Salido and Lopez didn’t disappoint the second time out, either. Salido was down in the fifth round, and the fight was 86-84, 86-84, and 85-85 in Lopez’s favor before Salido once again stopped the younger man in the 10th round.
Saldio held the belt until January 2013, when he faced Mikey Garcia. Garcia was spectacular in the fight, dropping Salido twice in the opening round, then again in the third and fourth. But as always, Salido wouldn’t go quietly. He made Garcia work for it and seemed to be getting closer as the fight went on, though he trailed hopelessly and would need a KO to win. An accidental headbutt busted Garcia’s nose, and the fight went to the cards in the eighth round for a wide Garcia win.
But he reclaimed the vacant WBO featherweight title in October 2013 with a seventh round knockout of Orlando Cruz, before being matched in early 2014 with Vasyl Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine.
Salido missed weight, but the fight went on. In what was Lomachenko’s second pro outing, the amateur legend was given a crash course in professional boxing by Salido, who made it a dirty rumble and edged a split decision. It wasn’t the biggest win of Salido’s career — after all, he did miss weight, so he couldn’t even keep his belt — but it was a hugely important fight for Lomachenko. However else you want to look at it, Salido taught Lomachenko things that were highly important, making Lomachenko the fighter we see today, arguably the best in the world.
Moving up to 130, Salido beat Terdsak Jandaeng in a war for the interim WBO super featherweight title in September 2014, then faced full titleholder Rocky Martinez in April 2015. Martinez won a debatable decision, leading to a September rematch that ended in a draw. Both were terrific action fights.
Coming out of the back-to-back with Martinez, Salido could have looked for a tune-up win, but instead signed on to face fellow action star and WBC titleholder Francisco Vargas in June 2016. That fight ended in another draw.
Salido sat out 11 months before returning for a tune-up win over Aristedes Perez in May of this year, and then he matched up with another brawler, Roman, to close out 2017. It didn’t go his way. Salido went down three times before being stopped in the ninth round. Once again, it was an action fight, no letdown for those who tuned in or bought tickets.
And that’s how I’ll remember Orlando Salido. He was someone you knew would give you entertainment when you watched him fight. He didn’t give up with his back against the wall. He fought hard, he fought tough, and it took a hell of a lot to beat the guy.
So if we’ve truly seen Orlando “Siri” Salido for the final time, I salute the man and his career. He’s someone those of us who saw him will talk about for a long time.