It was in the third round when Filipino Weng Haya felt he had a chance of winning against the defending WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido.
It was a perfectly-timed left hand that dropped Salido with seconds left before the round expired. Orlando beat the count but got tagged again by a left hand in the fourth round, his unsteady legs falling down to the canvass. Salido survived the round then surprisingly finished off the Filipino challenger in the eighth round via TKO.
When ordinary fighters could have buckled and waved the white flag, it really never crossed Salido’s mind, simply because it doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. This was always what he brings to the table—non-stop action. He never backs down and never quits.
Salido has never been a threat, never been part of the equation. When we talk about featherweights, we could only think of two kingpins that have ruled the division, Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Maybe it has something to do with his 11 losses, eight of which happened while he was between 15 and 21 years old. Or maybe it was the test that stained his career after testing positive for steroids while winning a unanimous decision against Roberto Guerrero. However, he maintained his innocence and immediately took another test at Labcorp which came back negative for any banned substance.
He lost his IBF belt before he even got to keep it. It has always been setbacks piling up one after another.
Winning against Juan Manuel Lopez last year was Salido’s essential moment. He fought against an undefeated fighter who belongs in the Top 10 pound for pound ranking. And after three decades of fighting, the 31-year-old Mexican fighter had finally arrived. The journey was long and bumpy, but he is close to the finish line. Still, one win doesn’t create a legacy.
Lopez needed a rematch, and Salido undoubtedly agreed to a March 3 fight. He needed that rematch more than ever. This time it’s not going to be about the belt…this is going to be a defining legacy after a stained reputation that proved to be futile.
Two knockdowns and Salido fought back with unsteady legs and sheer determination to win against Haya. He knows how crucial and how important the Lopez rematch is. Nobody can drag him down, not now and not on March 3.
Lopez should get ready because it’s really hard to win against an opponent who never quits.