Given his run of bad luck in Las Vegas, it would be hard to blame Orlando Salido for wanting to avoid Southern Nevada.
In his last two appearances here, the IBF featherweight champion tested positive for steroids after defeating Robert Guerrero in 2006 and in 2004 he lost a unanimous decision to Juan Manuel Marquez.
But Salido believes his fortunes will change Saturday when he returns to town to face WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in an HBO-televised title bout at the Palms.
“I’m motivated to be here,” the 29-year-old Salido said through an interpreter. “I’ve been looking forward to coming back and being in a big fight.”
Gamboa (18-0, 15 knockouts) should provide a tough test for Salido (34-10-2, 22 KOs). His speed, punching power and toughness figure to challenge Salido’s skills, which have been sharpened with a switch to trainer Daniel Zaragoza this year.
“He is probably the fastest guy I have ever faced,” Salido said. “We know he has a lot of speed, so we prepared for that.
“You have to put pressure on him and attack him. He does come a little open, and if he does, I have to take advantage of that and put him down.”
Salido and Gamboa were supposed to meet in July. But cuts that Salido suffered in winning the IBF title from Cristobal Cruz on May 15 hadn’t sufficiently healed.
However, Elio Rojas had to pull out of his fight with Gamboa after suffering hand and shoulder injuries in training in July, reopening the door for Salido.
“This fight is huge for me,” said Salido, whose goal is to unify the featherweight title. “It can put me at another level. It can change my life forever.”
He credits Zaragoza for helping him become a world champion.
“He’s been through all of this as a fighter,” Salido said. “When he tells you something, you can trust what he says.”
Zaragoza said he didn’t make any major changes to Salido’s style but simply fine-tuned his skills.
The last time Salido was in Las Vegas — Nov. 4, 2006 — he tested positive for nandrolone. His win over Guerrero, which would have earned Salido the IBF title, was changed to a no-contest. He was fined $5,833 and suspended for nine months.
Salido’s manager, Sean Gibbons, said his fighter had opportunities to return to the ring in Nevada sooner. But the chance to make more money and fight for the title in his hometown of Ciudad Obregon was impossible to turn down.
“You go where the money is,” Gibbons said. “And what fighter wouldn’t want to win a world championship in his hometown?”
Salido passed a prefight drug test last week.
■ NOTES — Undefeated Las Vegas super featherweight Diego Magdaleno (15-0, three KOs) will face Carlos Oliveira (25-1, 19 KOs) in an eight-round bout on the undercard, which begins at 4 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.