- Orlando Salido v Vasyl Lomachenko
Salido outpoints Lomachenko for winMarch 2, 2014 « Chavez Jr. bests Vera by decision in rematch | Chartbeat test »
Orlando Salido proved at least one thing to the heralded Vasyl Lomachenko: Professional boxing is a whole different game than the amateurs.
Salido, stripped of his featherweight world title for not making weight on Friday, pulled out a split decision in a rugged fight against Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, on Saturday night on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Bryan Vera super middleweight rematch at the Alamodome.
The title remained vacant, and Lomachenko's dream of winning a world title in his second professional fight - which would have been a boxing record - went unrealised, as he lost the very competitive and physical fight.
"I tried my best, but it didn't work out," Lomachenko said through a translator. "I don't want to say anything about the judges. I am a fighter. That is my job. I thought I won. What I will do now is go home and review the video and see what happened."
Two judges had it for Salido, 116-112 and 115-113, while the third had it for Lomachenko 115-113.
"It was a tough fight, and we knew that going in. I fought intelligently. Measured his punches," Salido said through a translator. "I had my strategy. I had to keep my punches flowing, and I tried to land as many punches as I could. I thought my experience was the difference between the two of us."
Salido, 33, of Mexico, was supposed to be making the first title defence of his third reign but failed to make weight and was stripped of his belt at Friday's weigh-in. He was 128¼ pounds, well over the 126-pound limit. Lomachenko, however, made weight and was eligible to win the vacant title.
Lomachenko began patiently before he started to let his combinations go in the third round. But the more-physical Salido made it rough, repeatedly hitting him on the hip when they were in a clinch.
Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs) was also warned by referee Laurence Cole for hitting Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO) after the bell ended the fourth round. Salido also went after Lomachenko's body hard, ripping hooks to his flank as often as he could to try to slow Lomachenko down.
Lomachenko - who was 396-1 as an amateur, with the defeat twice avenged - did land a solid right hand to Salido's head in the sixth round, but Salido took it well.
It was not the most entertaining fight, and many in the crowd turned their backs on it to see what was going on in a fight that broke out in the stands.
Salido continued to go hard to Lomachenko's body in the ninth round but also was landing repeated low blows, including one shot to Lomachenko's thigh. But Cole warned him only once and did not seem too concerned, and Lomachenko didn't complain.
"I expected that," Lomachenko said. "I'm a straight fighter. I'm clean. I would never fight dirty and throw punches below the belt. I have no excuses. He didn't make weight, but I thought I could still beat him."
Salido appeared to hurt Lomachenko with a body shot in the 10th round as it forced him to take a step back and shake his head. He also connected with a wide right hand late in the round.
Lomachenko, clearly believing he needed the final round, had a big 12th round, in which he clearly hurt Salido with body shots to the head and brought the fight to an exciting conclusion.
"I was hurt very badly in the 12th round," Salido said. "He caught me with a very bad body shot. It was a matter of survival. It was preparation that got me through the round. I made sure he didn't land a liver punch."
Lomachenko wanted to fight for a world title in his pro debut, but that was not possible. However, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum promised him he would get him a shot in his second fight as long as he won his October pro debut, which he did against fringe contender Jose Ramirez by fourth-round knockout.
That set the stage for him to challenge Salido, who had won a vacant title on the same card on which Lomachenko made his pro debut, although some consider him to have already had a handful of pro fights because of his stint in the World Series of Boxing. The WSB is league format promotion run by the same AIBA organisation that oversees the Olympic tournament. Fighters in the WSB retained the amateur eligibility.
Lomachenko was seeking to win a world title in his second pro fight, which would break the record set by Thailand's Saensak Muangsurin, who won a junior welterweight world title in his third pro fight in 1975.
This article originally appeared on ESPN.com