Salud still has fight at age 38
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Jesus Salud has a perfect remedy for the boxing blues.
Fight in Hawai'i.
He will rely on that once again on Tuesday when he takes on Fernando "Bobby Boy" Velardez in the 10-round junior featherweight (122 pounds) fight that is the main event of a five-bout card at the Hawai'i Convention Center.
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Salud: First fight in Hawai'i in a year.
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Salud, who grew up in Nanakuli, is 62-10 overall, but 35-0 in fights held in Hawai'i.
"It's an extra adrenaline boost for me every time I fight in Hawai'i," said Salud, 38. "When you're fighting in front of your family and friends, you want to perform your best."
To be sure, Salud could use the boost.
In his last fight five months ago, Salud lost to Marco Antonio Barrera in a WBO junior featherweight world title bout. The match was stopped after six rounds when the referee and ring doctor ruled that a cut above Salud's right eye was too severe for him to continue.
"I know in my heart I can beat him," Salud said. "I hurt him in the third round, but then I got the cut over my eye and I couldn't see, so the whole fight changed."
Three months later, Barrera moved up one weight class and gained international acclaim with an upset victory over Prince Naseem Hamed.
"I was disappointed because maybe that could have been me," Salud admitted.
Still, Salud said he has recovered physically and mentally from the Barrera loss.
"After his last fight, I told him if you want to retire, it's up to you," said Salud's younger brother, Glenn. "He said, 'What? I'm not even close to being ready to retire.' "
Instead, Salud has gone back to familiar surroundings. When he takes on Velardez on Tuesday, Salud will be fighting in Hawai'i for the first time in a year. He will also have a new trainer his brother, Glenn.
Glenn Salud, 36, is the fifth trainer to work with Salud during a career that is going on 18 years now.
"He can't teach me anything new about how to throw punches," said Jesus, who held the WBA junior featherweight world title in 1995. "But he's taking me back to the basics. He knows me better than any other trainer could. He knows what it took in my career to get me here."
Glenn added: "Put it this way, I've known him since the day he first put on boxing gloves."
With that in mind, Glenn said they have spent the last five months "bringing the real Jesus Salud back."
"He wasn't fighting the way he's supposed to be fighting," Glenn said. "He's versatile, he's the whole package. Some of the trainers thought he was a one-punch fighter and trained him that way."
It helps that Jesus still has the same desire he had 18 years ago. Incredibly, he has remained in the same weight class throughout his professional career.
"That shows you his dedication," Glenn said. "Most fighters, when they get older, they get a little lazy and put on weight and have to move up. Jesus loves to train. When we go to the gym, there's never any complaints."
Apparently, others in the business are aware of that. Salud said he has experienced problems scheduling bouts in recent years, in part because some of the up-and-coming boxers in his division are reluctant to face him.
"I'm considered old in my division, but guys are still afraid," he said. "In a way, that makes me feel good, but it's also frustrating."
That makes his match with Velardez much more important. At 17-4-1, Velardez is considered one of the "mid-major" contenders in the division.
In a best-case scenario, Salud would probably have to beat Velardez and then win two or three more fights in the next year to get another world title shot.
"I know I still have it in me," said Salud, who won eight consecutive fights prior to the Barrera loss.
However, he admits to knowing little about Velardez, except that "he comes to fight." Fitting with his career, Salud is only concerned with moving ahead on Tuesday.
"It'll be a great fight because neither of us will take a step backward," Salud said. "I know I'm ready to go. When I fight in Hawai'i, I feel like nobody can stop me."