Little Giants Hit the Big Apple

By Robert Ecksel on January 18, 2013
Little Giants Hit the Big Apple
“At some point,” says Orlando Salido, “he's gonna stop to trade.” (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

“I have the better defense,” Garcia said. “I have the better speed. I have the better footwork. I just don’t see how he can beat me…”

Saturday night on HBO Boxing After Dark, an enticing tripleheader will be broadcast live from The Theater at Madison Square Garden. In the main event, Orlando Salido (39-11-2) defends his WBO featherweight title against rising star Mikey Garcia (30-0). In the co-main, WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (24-0) faces late starter Gabriel Rosado (21-5). And in the opening bout of the night, Rocky Martinez (26-1-1) and Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1) fight for the WBO super featherweight title.

Salido vs. Garcia looks to be the fight of the night. The 25-year-old Garcia is one of the brightest stars in boxing’s constellation. A standout amateur that turned pro in 2006, he is undefeated with 26 of his 30 wins coming by way of knockout. Garcia is disciplined beyond his years. He has superlative boxing skills. He also has a distinguished boxing pedigree, most significantly in the form of his brother, Robert Garcia, whose gym in Oxnard, California is this generation’s Fifth Street Gym in Miami. And while Mikey has wins over Matt Remillard (23-0 at the time), Rafael Guzman (28-2), and Bernabe Concepcion (30-5-1), none of those victories insures that he can’t be beaten, especially when facing as tough an hombre as Orlando Salido.

“I have the better defense,” Garcia said. “I have the better speed. I have the better footwork. I just don’t see how he can beat me. My calmness comes naturally. I’m observing my opponent throughout the fight. I am going to try and dictate the pace, but if I have to slug it out, I will. When I see the chance for that one shot I just take it.”

Salido is the champ. He won the title by stopping previously undefeated Juan Manuel Lopez in 2011. Salido is experienced, having fought and beaten, albeit with a boost from mother’s little helper, the likes of Robert Guerrero (a verdict later changed to a no decision). Salido also packs a wallop and has a great chin. Garcia has never faced anyone with the resilience and will to win that the 32-year-old Salido possesses. Although Siri has 11 defeats on his record, only three of those losses have been since 2002 and they were to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004, Cristobal Cruz in 2008, and Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2010.

Salido has stopped the last five men he has faced.

“I come to fight,” Salido said. “We always want to fight the best fighters in the world and one of them is right in front of us. I’ll be chasing Garcia for the first few rounds but at some point he’s gonna stop to trade. I happen to the other guy. I don’t let the other guy happen to me. This fight is one that will be a war.”

Gennady Golovkin is the champion no other middleweight, or no other middleweight’s promoter, wants to fight. With the exception of two bouts in Panama, all of Golovkin’s fights had been Europe. Although he was flying below most fight fans’ radar here in the States, Golovkin was rumored to be the realest of real deals. Based on the demolition of 28-1 Grzegorz Proska in Verona, New York in his last fight, that maybe indeed be the case.

Golovkin won silver representing Kazakhstan in the 2004 Olympics and turned pro in 2006. While he defeated Andre Dirrell, Lucian Bute, and Andy Lee as an amateur, there are fewer recognizable names on his professional ledger. The 30-year-old Golovkin won the WBA middleweight title by KO’ing 14-2-1 Nilson Julio Tapia in 2010. He went on to defeat a faded Kassim Ouma and faded Lajuan Simon in 2011, before dropping the hammer on Proksa at the Turning Stone Casino. Golovkin is skilled and powerful, but it’s premature to anoint him an all-time great.

“I don’t know what he’s got,” said Golovkin about Rosado. “I am smarter. I am bigger. I am stronger. I’m glad that Gabriel accepted this opportunity and I wish him luck on Saturday night. I’m prepared for anything Gabriel brings to the fight.” 

If Golovkin stops Rosado, as many insist is a foregone conclusion, will that bring him one step closer to the laurel wreath? Rosado has power. He has stopped five of his last six opponents. But victories over Charles Whitaker, Sechew Powell and Jesus Soto Karass in 2012, and Keenan Collins, Ayi Bruce and Jamaal Davis 2011, may be inadequate preparation for facing the Kazakhstani killer. Losses to Alfredo Angulo and Fernando Guerrero in 2009, while a few years back, are more suggestive of what Rosado may be up against. His eagerness to sit in the pocket and trade punches, which is being celebrated in some quarters, will likely be his undoing against a hardened assassin like Gennady Golovkin.

“The kind of career I had would either make you or break you,” Rosado said. “It would have broken nine out of 10 guys. The Golovkin fight made sense because the greater the risk, the greater the reward. It’s like a drunk driver in an accident. The victims get hurt but the driver doesn’t because he’s loose. Same thing in the ring.”

The sleeper of the night might be the bout between Rocky Martinez and Juan Carlos Burgos. A fight between a Puerto Rican and Mexico has historical precedent and is always something to look forward to. Martinez is five years older than Burgos, but both fighters are at similar stages of their career and a bright future is burgeoning for one of them. Burgos has won his last five fights, and the only blemish on his record was a hometown decision awarded to Hozumi Hasegawa in 2010.

“I am ready and confident for the fight on Saturday night,” said Burgos. “I know I am fighting a Puerto Rican warrior. But like many who have come before me, I am a warrior also—a Mexican warrior. I will take this title back to Mexico where it belongs. I will be the first Mexican of 2013 to win a world championship.”

It’s a good thing that Burgos is ready and confident, because he’ll need that readiness and confidence when he goes up against Martinez. Martinez is an all-action fighter with plenty of power whose can extend almost anyone the distance. But there’s a caveat; he’s only fought twice since 2010. That inactivity could be detrimental, which is exactly the detriment Burgos intends to exploit.

“This is a great opportunity for me to fight at Madison Square Garden,” Martinez said, “where many of the great Puerto Rican champions have fought. I look to carry the torch and retain the title. Puerto Rico has a great boxing history and we will continue that. When Puerto Ricans and Mexicans fight it’s a great battle. I am representing my country in this fight. He is my enemy and I have to beat him.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Boxing After Dark: Salido vs. Garcia Preview

2012-03-10 Mikey Garcia vs Bernabe Concepcion (full fight)

2012-03-10 Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II (full fight)

Gennady Golovkin v Makoto Fuchigami (Full Fight)

Gennady Golovkin training & interview

Miguel Cotto vs Rocky Martinez (full fight)

Juan Carlos Burgos vs Cristobal Cruz 02/24/12

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  1. bikermike 07:58pm, 01/20/2013

    Just saw the cheapskate version (replay) of Salito..WBO Featherweight Champion…..go against ‘Mikey’ Garcia.

    Now..this Was for the Featherweight Title….not the Welterweight title .....Right ???

    .....just what would you say…...‘little Mikey ’ weighed in at…on fight night…...say , what ???? one sixty ?????

    Same day weigh ins…...good case for it

    BTW….good thing I never had as brave a corner did Salito

  2. the thresher 09:50am, 01/19/2013

    HBO Boxing After Dark at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT
    Orlando Salido 126 – Mikey Garcia 125.6
    Gennady Golovkin 160 – Gabriel Rosado 159
    Roman Martinez 129.5 – Juan Carlos Burgos 129
    Felix Verdejo 130.5 – Tomi Archambault 129.5
    Sean Monaghan 177.5 vs. Roger Cantrell 184.5
    Glen Tapia 153.5 – Ayi Bruce 153.25
    Isa Akberbayev 196.5 – Anthony Ferrante 196
    Mikael Zewski 149.5 – Brandon Hoskins 146.5
    Ronald Ellis 168.5 – Steven Tyner 170

  3. Bodyshots 08:45am, 01/19/2013

    Tarver’s analysis of Garcia is spot-on. needs to improve his closing skills and direct more attention to the body. otherwise, Garcia has all the talent and skills he needs to defeat Salido but the rugged Salido’s hard-earned and experience is an equalizer. this will be a baptism of fire for Garcia and another hot day in the kitchen for Salido. i’m giving the edge to Mikey since Salido can’t avoid being hit and Decked and it’s a very fine line between a Garcia KD and KO. every scoring punch of his packs the potential of one or the other. Mikey by TKO. Salido is underrated but he’s only truly better than Lopez.

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