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Salka ‘third wheel’ of ‘Pride of Pittsburgh II’ fight card

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Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME
Bunola's 'Lightning' Rod Salka (left) delivers a body shot to Alexei Collado during their lightweight bout at Monroeville Convention Center Friday. Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) upset the previously undefeated Cuban by unanimous decision.

Even though “Lightning” Rod Salka hails from nearby Bunola and is among three local fighters in the two main events of Friday’s “Pride of Pittsburgh II” fight card at Consol Energy Center, the lightweight boxer hasn’t gotten much publicity.

He’s been pretty much an afterthought, even though his belt — the WBC FECARBOX lightweight title — will be on the line.

Salka (19-4-0, 3 KOs) said he understands why his opponent, Monty Meza Clay (36-3-0, 22 KOs), and Monessen’s Sammy Vasquez Jr. (16-0-0, 12 KOs) are getting most of the hype and all of the spotlight from the show’s promoter, Iron Mike Productions.

“I’m not one of their guys,” Salka said. “I’m signed with Golden Boy, so it makes sense for them to do things that way and kind of leave me out. I just wish they would have explained some things to me before I signed the contract.”

Salka and Clay will fight in the co-main event of an attractive card that features Vasquez against Alberto “Metralleta” Mosquera (21-1-2, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBC FECARBOX welterweight title in a scheduled 10-rounder.

“(Clay and Vasquez) are Iron Mike guys,” Salka said. “I’m not and I really haven’t been involved in anything for this show. But I understand.”

What has gotten under Salka’s skin is the lack of respect and negative things that Clay has been saying about him leading up to the fight

“I’ve known him a long time and, yeah, I’m taking it kind of personal,” Salka said of Clay’s comments. “He’s saying a lot of things that I guess he feels he needs to say. People show themselves a little bit more in times like this.”

Clay has said that Salka doesn’t deserve to be in the ring with him, and other fighters were overlooked to move Salka up.

At a media conference last week, Clay said of Salka, “He’s done now.”

“He took some time off in his career and maybe he doesn’t know that this will be my fourth main event fight in the last year,” Salka said. “I’ve fought guys who were ranked higher than him, guys who were better than him. The last few guys I fought were all better than him.

“He can say what he wants. I just can’t wait to fight. Really, I wish the fight were today.”

Salka, who also owns two other belts (IBO International and WBA NABA lightweight titles) that won’t be on the line, says he knows what he has to do to beat Clay, who hails from Rankin.

“I have to use my advantages against him,” Salka said. “I’m younger, bigger and stronger. I know he’s going to come at me and keep coming. I will need to keep my space and let my hands go.”

Salka, who suffered a second round KO against unbeaten WBA and WBC champ Danny Garcia (28-0-0, 17 KOs) Aug. 9, said the scheduled 10-round fight Friday is exactly what he needs.

“This is a perfect fight for me,” Salka said. “I need this fight to get back into the big fight picture. There are no easy fights at this level, but this one is perfect for me.”

Salka has been training at Buzz Garnic’s Round 2 facility in Coal Center.

Tickets for “Pride of Pittsburgh II” are available through Ticketmaster.com or by calling 724-797-8694.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or [email protected].

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