Lomachenko suffers a rude awakening in his WBO featherweight title bid against Salido

After a confident debut in a 10 round fight, Vasyl Lomachenko attempted to make history by fighting for a title in his second fight. The fight turned out to be for a vacant title because Orlando Salido forfeited it on the scales by weighting in at 128.25 lbs. Salido did not even try to lose the extra 2.25 pounds and opted to pay the $15 000 fine rather than drain himself further. He was busy re-hydrating instead and came in at 147 pounds. Lomachenko and company were fooled from the start.

The Ukranian showed up in excellent condition and started the fight with confidence trying to work from long range. He used a lot of movement and footwork but found out his sharp shots had little effect on his rough and tough Mexican opponent. Salido kept his head low and walked through his rival’s pot shots to close in and rough him up at close range using his weight advantage.

Lomachenko seemed to outwork and out-box the veteran but he was not prepared to deal with Salido’s “no holds barred” approach. Orlando Salido used every dirty trick in the book against his younger and somewhat naive opponent. His body shots were seldom above the belt and his head preceded his attack, his shoulders and elbows ready to aid his onslaught. He repeatedly punched Lomachenko on the heap socket and seemed to alter his position and range by this dubious tactics. After this lesson on the shady side of the “sweet science”, it was Lomachenko who got a warning. The referee was totally oblivious towards Orlando Salido’s antics and stringent towards the up-and-comer.

Vasyl Lomachenko initially refused to box at close range and insisted on fighting from the outside for the first seven rounds. The Mexican was able to stifle and smother a lot of good stuff by wrestle-tie up tactics that allowed him to get inside. He had Lomachenko defending against head butts as well as the low blows.

Salido indeed picked up the pace in the 8th round in which he outworked Lomachenko and forced him to fight at close quarters. As a result Lomachenko found out he had nothing to be afraid of up close and took the fight to Salido. Lomachenko won all the championship rounds convincingly and he hurt the Mexican badly in the last round. A counter left cross caught Salido going forward and staggered him after that two body shots on each side of the rib cage put Salido in survival mode. To his credit he was able to clinch his way to the final bell. The referee again was completely absent –minded towards Salido’s foul play but halted the action whenever Lomachenko seemed to threaten the veteran. Salido finished the fight as a beaten man and Lomachenko’s body language showed he believed the decision was just a formality. Then came the cold shower and Vasyl Lomachenko was welcomed into the cold world of prize fighting. Salido’s corner knew the verdict long before the official announcement and started celebrating to Lomachenko’s team dismay while they were anxiously anticipating the official result. When the SD was announced they were so taken aback they did not even remember to protest.

The punch stats indicate that Lomachenko landed 164 out of 441 while Salido landed 142 out of 645. Perhaps for this occasion there should have been a separate count for low blows and head butts. Anyway, boxing isn’t about counting punches and Lomachenko should have been more impressive with his performance. He still out boxed the veteran and finally beat and hurt Salido at close range, which was Salido’s comfort zone from the start.