Martinez, Salido headed toward trilogy fight


Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer –

Junior lightweight titlist Roman “Rocky” Martinez and former titleholder Orlando Salido fought two exciting, close fights in 2015 to add another chapter to the great Puerto Rico-versus-Mexico boxing rivalry.

Now they are headed for a third fight in early 2016.

Both fighters and their handlers were at the WBO’s annual convention last week in Orlando, Florida, where the sanctioning body approved a third fight between them.

“There is no doubt in my mind that I won the second fight, but the judges didn’t see it that way,” Salido said. “So I think the only right thing to do is fight a third time to determine who really is the best of the two. It seems that we are made for each other, and the fights are getting better. The first one was good, the second was better and the third will be the best.”

On April on Martinez’s turf in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Martinez, 32, knocked Mexico’s Salido, 34, down twice, and Salido had a point deducted for low blows in an otherwise highly competitive fight. In the end, Martinez won a unanimous decision in a fight of the year candidate and took Salido’s 130-pound world title.

They met in a rematch on Sept. 12 in Las Vegas in the co-feature of the Floyd Mayweather-Andre Berto welterweight world title fight and put on another tremendous show. This time Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) retained the title by split draw in another hellacious battle that most thought Salido (42-13-3, 29 KOs) deserved to win.

“We feel that he should have gotten the win, but it did not happen that way in September,” said Sean Gibbons, who manages Salido. “I am happy that everyone is working on getting this third fight done, especially the champ and his team and that the WBO is good with it. I know we will get it done, and it’s going to be another great war.”