by Nat Gottlieb
The undercard for the Bradley-Marquez showdown is highlighted by a pair of intriguing featherweight bouts, including the return of former champion, Orlando Salido, making his return after losing his title to unbeaten Mikey Garcia. Equally interesting is the much-anticipated professional debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, one of the greatest amateur fighters of all time. The opening bout on the card will feature a light heavyweight fight between unbeaten contender Seanie Monaghan, a former bricklayer who turned professional just three years ago, and once-beaten Anthony Caputo-Smith.
Orlando Cruz vs. Orlando Salido:
The Mexican Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs), a two-time champion who was the first boxer to defeat Juan Manuel Lopez, is an all-out brawler with a super-aggressive style. His opponent, Puerto Rican Orlando Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs), doesn't have the résumé of Salido, but stylistically will present problems for the former champion. Cruz is a southpaw with very good boxing skills who moves well in the ring. As such, he is not the ideal matchup for Salido, who prefers opponents to stand right in front of him and wage war. Salido has an enormous edge in big-fight experience over Cruz, having been in nine title bouts. The Mexican's only losses in the last nine years have been to the top-tier boxers Garcia, Juan Manuel Marquez, Cristobal Cruz, and the unbeaten Cuban sensation, Yuriorkis Gamboa.
The task facing Salido is to cut off the ring against the fleet-footed Cruz, work the Puerto Rican's body, slow those legs down, and then force him into a slugfest. In press conferences, Salido has accused Cruz of being a "runner," but the Puerto Rican says he is not going to get on his bicycle. "When I need to fight, I am going to fight," Cruz says. "When I need to box, I am going to box. I am going to be the smartest guy in the ring."
The 32-year-old Salido knows the stakes are high for him. A second straight defeat would make it hard for him to get another title fight anytime soon. He also is hoping for a rematch against Garcia, who recently moved up to junior lightweight.
Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jose Luis Ramirez
The 25-year-old Lomachenko is taking on an unusual assignment for his pro debut. Instead of testing the pro waters with a few easy fights at four or six rounds, he will be jumping right into a 10-rounder against a featherweight who is knocking on the door of the top 10 ranks, Jose Luis Ramirez (25-3, 15 KOs). Ramirez, who traveled to the Philippines in his last fight to take on hometown hero, Rey Bautista, handed the Filipino only his third loss in 36 fights.
Lomachenko has generated an enormous amount of buzz, and justifiably so. The Ukrainian won an Olympic gold medal in both the 2008 Games in Beijing and again in London in 2012. His amateur record was an unbelievable 396-1. His only loss was to Albert Selimov in the 2007 World Championships, a defeat he avenged twice. Like several recent amateur legends who turned pro, the 25-year-old Lomachenko asked his promoter, Top Rank, to fast-track him to a championship fight. If he beats Ramirez, there's a strong possibility Lomachenko will challenge the winner of the Salido-Cruz title fight.
Seanie Monaghan vs. Anthony Caputo-Smith
In the light heavyweight bout, the 32-year-old Monaghan is taking on Caputo-Smith, who has a 14-1 record, but is something of a journeyman. Caputo-Smith's loss was to another unheralded fighter who had six defeats on his record. Monaghan fights out of Long Beach, N.Y., and is known to attract a vocal Irish-American crowd. A win over Caputo-Smith would bring the fighter and his supporters closer to a possible title fight.