- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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SAN ANTONIO -- Orlando Salido proved at least one thing to the heralded Vasyl Lomachenko: Professional boxing is a whole different game than the amateurs.
Salido, stripped of his featherweight world title for not making weight on Friday, pulled out a split decision in a rugged fight against Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, on Saturday night on the undercard of the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Bryan Vera super middleweight rematch at the Alamodome.
The title remained vacant, and Lomachenko's dream of winning a world title in his second professional fight -- which would have been a boxing record -- went unrealized, as he lost the very competitive and physical fight.
"I tried my best, but it didn't work out," Lomachenko said through a translator. "I don't want to say anything about the judges. I am a fighter. That is my job. I thought I won. What I will do now is go home and review the video and see what happened."
Two judges had it for Salido, 116-112 and 115-113, while the third had it for Lomachenko 115-113. ESPN.com had it 114-114.
"It was a tough fight, and we knew that going in. I fought intelligently. Measured his punches," Salido said through a translator. "I had my strategy. I had to keep my punches flowing, and I tried to land as many punches as I could. I thought my experience was the difference between the two of us."
Salido, 33, of Mexico, was supposed to be making the first title defense of his third reign but failed to make weight and was stripped of his belt at Friday's weigh-in. He was 128¼ pounds, well over the 126-pound limit. Lomachenko, however, made weight and was eligible to win the vacant title.
Lomachenko began patiently before he began to let his combinations go in the third round. But the more-physical Salido made it rough, repeatedly hitting him on the hip when they were in a clinch.
Salido (41-12-2, 28 KOs) was also warned by referee Laurence Cole for hitting Lomachenko (1-1, 1 KO), a 26-year-old southpaw, after the bell ended the fourth round. Salido also went after Lomachenko's body hard, ripping hooks to his flank as often as he could to try to slow Lomachenko down.
Lomachenko -- who was 396-1 as an amateur, with the defeat twice avenged -- did land a solid right hand to Salido's head in the sixth round, but Salido took it well.
It was not the most entertaining fight, and many in the crowd turned their backs on it to see what was going on in a fight that broke out in the stands.
Salido continued to go hard to Lomachenko's body in the ninth round but also was landing repeated low blows, including one shot to Lomachenko's thigh. But Cole warned him only once and did not seem too concerned, and Lomachenko didn't complain.
"I expected that," Lomachenko said. "I'm a straight fighter. I'm clean. I would never fight dirty and throw punches below the belt. I have no excuses. He didn't make weight, but I thought I could still beat him."
Salido appeared to hurt Lomachenko with a body shot in the 10th round as it forced him to take a step back and shake his head. He also connected with a wide right hand late in the round.
Lomachenko, clearly believing he needed the final round, had a big 12th round, in which he clearly hurt Salido with body shots and to the head and brought the fight to an exciting conclusion.
"I was hurt very badly in the 12th round," Salido said. "He caught me with a very bad body shot. It was a matter of survival. It was preparation that got me through the round. I made sure he didn't land a liver punch."
Lomachenko wanted to fight for a world title in his pro debut, but that was not possible. However, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum promised him he would get him a shot in his second fight as long as he won his October pro debut, which he did against fringe contender Jose Ramirez by fourth-round knockout.
That set the stage for him to challenge Salido, who had won a vacant title on the same card on which Lomachenko made his pro debut, although some consider him to have already had a handful of pro fights because of his stint in the World Series of Boxing. The WSB is league format promotion run by the same AIBA organization that oversees the Olympic tournament. Fighters in the WSB retained the amateur eligibility.
Lomachenko was seeking to win a world title in his second pro fight, which would break the record set by Thailand's Saensak Muangsurin, who won a junior welterweight world title in his third pro fight in 1975.
Diaz cruises to win against Robles
In the fourth fight of his comeback after three years in retirement, former unified lightweight titleholder Juan Diaz -- "The Baby Bull" -- routed Gerardo Robles of Mexico in their 10-round lightweight fight.
Fighting 200 miles from his hometown of Houston, Diaz moved a step closer to a significant fight with a near-shutout decision win on scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91.
"It was an awkward fight because I'm always the shorter guy, but this time I fought a guy shorter than me," Diaz said. "But I got the left hook working. By the seventh round, he didn't want to trade [punches] with me. I thought I finished well, and I'm going to ask Top Rank to put me in a world-title fight. That's where I think I'm at."
Diaz used his left hook -- his best punch -- to pound Robles throughout the fight, which had the crowd cheering because of the constant action. Diaz was in control all the way and landed a lot of punches against the game Robles. Diaz battered Robles (16-13, 7 KOs), 31, with left hooks in the seventh round and punctuated it with a clean right hand. There were long stretches of toe-to-toe action.
"The Baby Bull" is hoping to make another run at a world title. Diaz (39-4, 19 KOs), 30, won a 135-pound world title in 2004 and made seven defenses, including unifying three of the major belts, and established himself as a consistently crowd-pleasing brawler before losing his belts to Nate Campbell via split decision in 2008.
Diaz retired in 2010 after a second loss to Juan Manuel Marquez -- and a third loss in four fights -- but came out of retirement last April, feeling hungry to box again.
• Blue-chip prospect featherweight Oscar Valdez (9-0, 8 KOs), the 2012 Mexican Olympian, stopped Samuel Sanchez (5-6-1, 5 KOs) of Dallas at 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the second round of their scheduled six-round fight. Valdez was taking it to Sanchez when he staggered him with a clean left hook, and referee Mark Calo-Oy stepped in to stop the bout. Sanchez complained bitterly about the stoppage.
• San Antonio lightweight prospect Ivan Najera (13-0, 8 KOs) and Angel Hernandez (8-2, 4 KOs) of McAllen, Texas, traded knockdowns in a fierce fight, but Najera won a unanimous eight-round decision. Hernandez hit the canvas in the first round but rebounded to drop Najera in the second round. However, Najera took charge thereafter and won 78-72, 77-73 and 77-73.
• Junior welterweight Jose Zepeda (19-0, 17 KOs) of La Puente, Calif., routed overmatched club fighter Johnnie Edwards (15-7-1, 8 KOs) of Jacksonville, S.C., stopping him in the second round. Zepeda had his way in the first round and continued to pound him in the second round until referee Wilfredo Esperon stepped in at 2 minutes, 10 seconds after Edwards doubled over after taking a hard body shot.
• Welterweight prospect Alex Saucedo (13-0, 9 KOs) of Oklahoma City took a lopsided six-round decision against Gilberto Venegas (12-13, 4 KOs) of East Moline, Ill., winning the crowd-pleasing fight 60-54 on two scorecards and 59-55 on the third.
• Featherweight Jerren Cochran (11-0, 4 KOs) of Houston dropped Aduato Gonzalez (11-10, 4 KOs) of Mexico in the third round and cruised to a lopsided six-round decision in the opening fight of the card. Cochran won 60-53 on one scorecard and 59-54 on the other two.
Orlando Salido pulled out a split decision in a rugged fight against Vasyl Lomachenko on Saturday night at the Alamodome.