Undefeated featherweight contender Mikey Garcia from Oxnard, California is a graduate of the Ventura County Police Academy. There may be a need for some law enforcement when he steps into the ring to challenge gritty WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden on the season premiere of HBO's 'Boxing After Dark'.
At 30-0 (26 KO's), Garcia has a warrant for this title shot. A methodical, patient and powerful puncher, he has won his last eight fights by stoppage and has steadily developed as a complete fighter under the guidance of his trainer, brother and former IBF super featherweight champion Robert Garcia. One could argue that it is a crime it has taken the talented 25-year old Garcia this long to get an opportunity for a world title while other gifted fighters such as Adrien Broner and Abner Mares are already on a second world title in as many weight classes.
The 26 knockout victims recorded on Garcia's rap sheet are not necessarily the most hardened of criminals, all of whom allowed the cerebral fighter to dictate the distance, pace and flow without displaying the ability to work their way inside and attack. 'Officer' Garcia was in charge, quietly and patiently offering a Miranda warning before inflicting his own brand of police brutality.
Salido (39-11-2, 27 KO's) will most certainly resist arrest.
The rugged Mexican has done all of the legwork throughout his 16+ year career, fighting several world class featherweights on the big stage. This includes two wars with Juan Manuel Lopez where he won both times by technical knockout on enemy territory in Puerto Rico, a spirited split decision loss to Cristobal Cruz in October 2008 where both men threw over 1000 punches with Salido avenging justice 18 months later with a unanimous decision victory, and somewhat reserved challenges against Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Marquez, losing each time by wide point decisions.
It was his November 2006 fight against Robert Guerrero for the IBF belt where Salido was caught packin', testing positive for the steroid nandrolone after the bout. Instead of being declared the winner, the unanimous decision victory was overturned to a 'no contest' and Salido deemed a perpetrator.
Since that time, Salido has acquitted himself extremely well over his next 14 fights, going 12-2 (9 KO's) and enters tomorrow night's contest winning his last five bouts by stoppage (including the two over Lopez).
Salido is expected to be charged with disorderly conduct when he faces Garcia. His 'take no prisoner' style may force the slow starting Garcia to stand and fight on the inside, a position with which the Oxnard native is typically not comfortable.
"I think that he's going to be more aggressive than he has shown in the rest of his fights. But if he's not, then I'm prepared to go after him by chasing him and pressuring him until I cut him down," the 32-year old Salido said of his fight strategy.
While Garcia is most effective moving on the outside, throwing his jab and avoiding heated exchanges, he can pack a punch with lethal power. If he goes by the book, he can draw in Salido and pick the champion off with jabs and well-timed counterpunches that can bail Garcia out of any trouble he may find himself in during the course of the bout. Salido has hit the deck five times in his last six fights so is susceptible. He would be well served to circle to his right to stay away from his opponent's power hand and look to land his own sneaky overhand right when Garcia throws the jab.
"I believe I have the skills and the strength to beat Orlando Salido, but I know that I have to be very smart and very patient in the ring," said Garcia.
It's the challenger's intelligence and patience against the gritty veteran's experience and pressure that should make one want to be an eye witness to this scene.
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