Slowly but surely, Mike Perez continues his comeback
The first punch Mike “The Rebel” Perez threw landed square on the temple of his opponent Darnell Wilson, who dropped to the canvas just seconds into their bout. The shot echoed in the steel-chambered Hangar at the OC Fairgrounds and despite Wilson getting to his feet, the fight didn’t last much longer.
Wilson, 25-19-3 (21), managed to recover from that right hook and also managed to withstand two more knockdowns within the opening round as he was still reeling from the first. He tried to claw his way back into the fight by throwing haymakers but Perez didn’t budge and the Cuban heavyweight calmly sat Wilson down for a fourth time, soliciting a stoppage from referee Jack Reiss 59 seconds into the second round.
Although it wasn’t much of a fight by definition, Perez, 21-1-1 (13), got a much needed victory, a result he hasn’t seen in his past two fights within a 15-month timetable. Even his last official win before Thursday night was overshadowed by the tragic result of opponent Magomed Abdusalamov being induced into a coma after the bout. “Mago” still fights for his life to this day.
Perez wasn’t at fault for that cataclysmic outcome; he merely did what he was paid to do and had he not, he very well could have been on the other end of a brutal beating. On the other hand, there are multiple people and variables to blame for Magomed’s condition, which include the referee, his corner, and even his own fighting spirit. It can’t be proven but one can only think Perez was affected by the events from that fight. A still undefeated Perez looked tentative in the ring against Carlos Takam which may have been why they fought to a draw and Perez also looked empty while losing a split decision to Bryant Jennings last July.
The loss to Jennings was perhaps the biggest blow to Perez’s chance at a world title. The winner was slated to be in line to face undisputed heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and that’s what exactly what happened. Jennings will now face Wladimir on April 26 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Those last two mediocre outings got Perez exactly into the situation he weathered on Thursday evening, off television and in the ring with a journeyman willing to take any fight for a menial paycheck.
Be that as it may, there were positives to look for in Perez’s career after wiping out the “Ding-A-Ling Man.” With his recognizable name printed boldest on the ticket, the Hangar was filled to capacity with added standing-room-only tickets and drew more sales than ever at that venue, according to the promoter of the event, Roy Englebrecht.
With new trainer Robert Garcia in his corner, Perez also looked to be in fantastic shape when compared to his last two forgettable bouts. Working n Oxnard, CA at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, Perez may have found a new home where many champions of past and present have blossomed.
Perhaps underrated in terms of importance for Perez’s future was the presence of HBO Sports President Ken Hershman in the crowd. Showing up in great shape with a famed trainer, and knocking his opponent down four times en route to a victory was the best Perez could do in order to convince the HBO exec to get him back in the spotlight.
At 29, Perez, has plenty of time and fuel left in the tank to make a move in the heavyweight class. The WBC titleholder, Deontay Wilder will likely be looking for more viable opponents before he enters a potential clash with Klitschko. Perez is a class fighter who offers enough of a rapport with boxing fans and can be a nice test for Wilder, who is still considered rough around the edges by many. Boxing is a sport that offers many second chances both in and out of the ring. Going forward with a new corner and perspective ahead of him, Perez will be fighting for that second chance but this time knows the consequences of failure.
If you have followed my writing and relatively new venture into the boxing media, you probably know I’m still somewhat new at seeing the fights in a live setting. Here are a few notes about this card at the Hangar.
* I pulled up early, and parked my car next to the Cadillac Escalade which brought fighters form The Summit in Big Bear, Ca. Driving the Cadillac was trainer Abel Sanchez, best known for being the current architect of WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin. “GGG” didn’t come out of that Escalade but it did cross my mind that it could have happened. In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing for I probably would have embarrassed myself.
* Sanchez was there for one of his fighters, junior welterweight Ruslan Madiev, 3-0 (1), and for the first time, I saw a fighter get visibly scared in the ring. Madiyev made his opponent, Cesar Martinez, 4-5-2 (1), scramble helplessly in the ring after Ruslan displayed a vicious left hook. Madiev won via first round TKO while Martinez simply had trouble hiding the look of fear in his eyes.
* Got to meet a very recognizable face in the sport of boxing, Sam Watson. Al Haymon’s right-hand man came around to the media table to shake all of our hands. A nice, approachable guy with soft hands (I’ll bet he moisturizes), Watson was there for a fighter out of the Mayweather Boxing Club, heavyweight Michael “The Bounty” Hunter, 7-0 (4). He got a unanimous decision over a tough out that night in Avery Gibson, 4-5-3 (1).
* My favorite fight of the night was between two Lopezes, one undefeated and the other winless. Gabe Lopez, 3-1 (3), came in with a flawless record and the crowd behind him. But Gustavo Lopez, 1-2-1, came to shock everyone at the venue. Gustavo looked to have scored a knockdown in the opening round but it was wrongfully ruled a slip. Nonetheless, the punch that sent Gabe to the canvas drew a bad cut over his left eye that gave him fits over the remainder of the bout. Gustavo managed to wobble Gabe a couple more times in the four-rounder and earned a unanimous decision win.
* I was told to look out for Luis “The Mayor” Mora, 4-1-2 (3), by a fan on Twitter and was excited to see him fight but his opponent, Dwain “Crown” Victorian, 5-3 (3), ruined that party. Armed with a looping uppercut, Victorian found its home directly on the chin of a heavily-bearded Mora in the second round, dropping him early. Victorian followed up on an already shaky Mora, starching him for a clean knockout shortly afterward.
* Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios was there and his personality shown on television and interviews isn’t sold short in person. Seems like a fun kid to be around.
You can reach Michael Baca II at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at http://twitter.com/wotbboxing and visit him at his blog, www.writeonthebutton.squarespace.com.