By Steve Kim: If you go to the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood enough, there’s two things you’re bound to see. One is trainer Freddie Roach, who happens to own the joint and trains his stable of fighters there. The other is Alejandro Perez, who, whether he has a fight scheduled or not, will be seen putting in an honest day at the gym. Perez isn’t a guy who needs to be told to train or stay in shape. Boxing isn’t so much his career but a integral part of his lifestyle and identity.
But Perez, who faces Art Hovhannisyan from the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in tonight’s “ShoBox” (Showtime, 11 p.m., ET/PT) main event, trains much more than he actually fights. This outing will be his first live action since last February when he stopped Derrick Wilson in eight rounds.
“Yeah, most definitely, me personally, that’s what I would like [to fight more],” he admitted while on the steps leading up to the Wild Card last week after his workout. Since the beginning of 2011, Perez has fought just three times, a ridiculously low amount for a fighter who’s not a pay-per-view draw making millions of dollars. “I would like to stay as busy as I can,” he says. “At least four or five fights a year. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been my career per se but I’m always in the gym. I just try to stay motivated no matter what till I’m called and let’s do it.”
When asked why he goes long stretches without fights, Perez surmises, “I just think some fighters, they like to get easier opponents. Maybe they bring my name up and they know, of course I’m beatable - as anybody is. However, I’m no easy target, so I think other fighters are seeking easier opponents.”
There’s plenty of truth in what he says. Perez represents a hard night’s work for anyone between 122 and 126 pounds. He’s got an aggressive style and can punch a bit but he represents a bit too much risk for not enough reward for most boxers. Naturally, this is one of the reasons why he has to take fights above his optimal weight like he did against Diego Magdaleno (who easily outboxed Perez after hitting the floor early on when they met in 2011) and versus Hovhannisyan. The reality is he has no other choice.
“Pretty much. I believe so because I fight at 126. I feel really strong at 126; however, with time and now my age too, at 130, I’m making it, no problem. I feel really strong; I feel really good in sparring sessions. I’m just three pounds away from my weight right now, so it feels great,” he said last Friday.
Against Hovhannisyan, he’s squaring off against a familiar face.
“Tough fighter, foremost,” says Perez, “a very good friend of mine, a very good friend of mine. We know each other from the gym, Wild Card. We train a lot together; we sparred a lot together many rounds. But he’s a tough fighter who I know is going to come in and try to do what I’m going to try to do to him, which is take his head off.” When asked if his opponent had an advantage being the natural 130-pounder, he says, “It can be a small advantage; however, the fact that we know each other in the ring already, that’s what’s going to make it even more exciting of a fight. We just gotta be smart in there. We gotta be smart; we gotta be tactical because we know each other.”
One concern Perez always has is ring rust. Yeah, he might spar for months at a time but there’s nothing quite like a real fight. But boxing is like riding a bike for him. “Pretty much,” he says, downplaying the notion. “Maybe a round-and-a-half, after that, I loosen up and I’m good to go. I feel that as a fight goes on, I start from less to more to more to more.”
Perez is 26 years old but has just 20 fights under his belt (with a record of 16-3-1 with 11 KOs). There was a time when a guy like him would be fighting twice a month at the Olympic Auditorium, earning a decent living in the ring (to make ends meet, Perez works a side gig as a personal trainer). And without a promoter (Perez had a short-lived run with Top Rank that didn’t work out), he finds it tough to get consistent work.
But he keeps grinding away.
“I just gotta stay tough,” said the native of Salinas, California. “Gotta stay tough; gotta stay motivated. One day, when I turned 18, I made a big decision to move out of my house, come down to L.A. and follow a dream, a dream that’s still in the process. I dream. Personally, I don’t like to leave unfinished business.”
You might have heard that Showtime/CBS has picked up the services of one Floyd Mayweather Jr. but they are also moving ahead with the rest of their schedule. The network is on the verge of putting together a very good looking scrap at junior welterweight on April 20th between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez.
“That’s a fight we are definitely talking about,” confirmed Stephen Espinoza, the head of Showtime Sports. “I don’t think it’s quite there. I hope we can get it done.” The card would take place in Ontario, California and according to Espinoza, opening up that broadcast, “We’ve talked about maybe an Abner Mares fight there. That would make sense.”
The following week, Showtime already has the rescheduled doubleheader featuring junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah and WBO middleweight titlist Peter Quillin taking on Fernando Guerrero. There are rumblings that on that same day in the U.K., Amir Khan could end up facing Julio Diaz. “That’s a name that’s come up. I think that’s far from done at this point,” said Espinoza on Tuesday from his offices in New York.
Now, “The Kidd” - who’s no longer really a kid - may bring about some groans as Khan’s next foe. The question is would Showtime (who inked Khan to a multi-fight contract) green-light this?
“It’s all about the context,” explained Espinoza. “It’s one thing to accept an opponent as the main event of a U.S. fight here on ‘Championship Boxing.’ It’s another thing if [Khan]’s in the U.K. and it’s not the centerpiece of our broadcast and it’s under different financial terms. So it’s all about the context in which it’s offered.”
Honestly, if it’s the third fight on a tripleheader with two more palatable fights, I don’t have all that much of a problem with it. Now, to Espinoza’s point, if it were the main attraction...
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