Perez adjusts to Crolla’s hometown for Saturday match-up
Darleys Perez grew up on the tough streets in Colombia. After conquering opponents on the street and winning a major title in the ring, very little intimidates Perez. That includes fighting in his opponent’s hometown.
Perez will defend his WBA World lightweight title against Anthony Crolla on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The bout will televised live on SKY Sports.
In his last bout on Jan. 9 in Santa Ynez, Calif., Perez (32-1, 20 knockouts) dropped Jonathan Maicelo in the first round in route to a one-sided 12 round decision win, giving Perez four consecutive wins since suffering the only loss of his career at the hands of Yuriorkis Gamboa in June of 2013.
Perez has complimented his punching power by improving his skill-set under trainer Danny Zamora in Santa Fe Springs, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Crolla (29-4-2, 11 KOs) is unbeaten in his last seven fights. He will have a partisan crowd behind him but the thought doesn’t faze Perez. The 31-year-old Perez, who has faced the better opposition of the two, believes he has had to worry more about the time change than Crolla.
“I think getting adjusted to the different time zones has probably been the most difficult part of this fight,” said Perez, who is co-promoted by Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing Promotions. “I trained in Los Angeles and now I’m in England, so just getting used to the time change and getting the required amount of rest before fight night is what I’m focused on.”
As for fighting in front of a raucous, pro-Crolla crowd, Perez is indifferent.
“He’ll have everyone in the arena rooting for him. He’ll have the full support of the crowd but none of that bothers me. I know what I have to do to win.”
There is nothing machismo about what Perez said about fighting in Crolla’s hometown. To Perez, it is a way of life.
Perez stumbled upon boxing when he was a boy. What became a curiosity for later became a livelihood and salvation while growing up in poverty in Colombia. While soccer is a passion for many in that country, Perez has become the latest in a growing stream of fighters from that country who have become contenders and world champions.
“It wasn’t really a hobby or a sport that I thought I would make a career out of. I started boxing to defend myself. It was that simple for me. Where I’m from (Uraba, Colombia), you need to know how to fight.”
While his improved skill-set and power will be the obvious keys to victory for Perez, he will also rely on something Crolla could be overwhelmed by.
“My mental and physical fortitude. I don’t get rattled. I don’t waste rounds. I find my rhythm early and try to win every round.
“There’s no way I’m going back to Colombia without my world title.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since Oct. of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.