LOS ANGELES – Orlando Salido is the Tony Bennett of boxing, newly fashionable in his dotage. He won respect when he went shoelace-to-shoelace with Rocky Martinez twice in 2015. Then he became a cult figure when he went 12 rapid-fire rounds with Francisco Vargas in June.
Salido was so nakedly fearless in those three fights that you forget he won none of them. He got a loss and two draws. He is 35, much older than that in Fist Years. Yet Salido has become a hot commodity in a microwave age.
Watching it all was Mikey Garcia, former featherweight champion and Next Big Thing. In 2013 he took care of Salido in eight rounds, no problem.
“I thought Salido won the second fight with Rocky and he won the fight against Vargas,” Garcia said Tuesday, at City of Angels Gym, south of downtown. “And I remember beating him pretty easy.”
It’s 2016. Careers shorten. So do attention spans. Garcia, of Moreno Valley, has not fought since February 2014, when he beat Juan Carlos Burgos and improved to 34-0.
He returns July 30 in New York against Elio Rojas, but that’s the lead-in to Leo Santa Cruz’s match with Carl Frampton. In Garcia’s exile, new kids have flooded the town. Garcia is 28, eager to jab Rojas and jog some memories.
“I really think I’m going to be better,” Garcia said. “I’ve been in the gym pretty much the whole time. I don’t think I’ve been forgotten completely. But I was getting bored, tired. It gets redundant.”
“It was too easy for Mikey before,” said Robert Garcia, Mikey’s trainer and older brother. “I was getting frustrated with him because I didn’t know if he was coming back. Now I really think if he hadn’t taken time off he’d be retired by now.”
Mikey had to be talked into boxing in the first place. He wanted to be a highway patrolman. Meanwhile he was cleaning up the featherweights, but he couldn’t make weight before he defeated Juan Manuel Lopez. He moved up to super-featherweight and won two title fights, and said he’ll fight Rojas at 140.
Then he plans to go back to lig…