Perez, Petrov gear up for WBA title eliminator
LOS ANGELES – Michael Perez looks to depict a clear portrayal of his leap from prospect to contender when, on Sept. 30, he faces Petr Petrov in a WBA lightweight title elimination. The fight headlines an estrellaTV/RingTV Live broadcast from the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino in Indio, Calfornia.
At a recent media workout held at Westside Boxing Cub, Perez, who suffered a nasty cut above one of his eyes in his last bout, spoke with Ringtv.com before the most important fight of his career.
“(The cut) healed great. There’s been a lot of time between the fights, so there’s been time to heal,” he said while touching his right brow, where he received seven stitches after a clash of heads with veteran Martin Honorio cut their March fight short after six rounds and left Perez a bloody mess despite winning a wide technical decision.
It was the second fight in a row Perez had his hand raised in victory with his own blood dripping down his face thanks to the same happening. Another cut of his in 2013 versus Lonnie Smith ended a fight short (leaving him with a technical draw), and it begged the question of whether it was a cause for concern going forward.
“No,”Perez said. “The fighters that I’m fighting come in with the head a lot. It’s bound to happen. I don’t know what to say, it happens. In the gym we do practice trying to stay away from bumping heads. If you want to go see my last fight, you can see I’m pushing his head out the way the whole fight. It happened really fast, a quick nick. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be a big clash of heads, just a little scrape will get you cut, it happens. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. Sometimes you plan for a fight and it comes out to be another one. I’m good at adapting inside the fight. Like when I got cut, I couldn’t see out of my right eye, I had to adapt.”
All that practice for this camp has taken place in the Riverside, California – the second location of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy – and Perez seems to prefer it there rather than the Oxnard locale.
“Training camp has been great,” said Perez, a Puerto Rican from Newark, New Jersey. “It’s really peaceful. It’s way different than Oxnard. I like it there. It’s more secluded. No distractions, you’re more focused in Riverside.”
“When asked if there is one thing in this camp he worked to get better on, Perez responded “All around – I’m always trying to get better – I got a great jab and I’m still trying to make it better than what it is. You can never get complacent in any sport. If you want to be great, you always have to work on your craft and try to get better all around. I don’t think there’s anything you can perfect.
“That’s the beauty about life. People make mistakes and that’s all it takes in a fight – make one mistake and you’ll get caught. I’ve seen fights where guys have fought and won a whole fight up until the final round, get caught and get knocked out. That’s the beauty about boxing – one mistake – that’s all it takes. In any road, sport, or thing you do, one mistake can be the end of you.”
Perez (24-1-2, 11 knockouts) wasn’t quick to say Petrov is the toughest opponent he will have faced to date.
“Who knows?” Perez shrugged. “Sept. 30, we will find out. I fought a lot of tough opponents. I haven’t had a walk in the park. He’s a tough opponent, I know he’s coming to win, and I am too. The winner of this fight fight’s for a world title, so that’s in the back of both of our heads. I’m 100-percent ready, and I’m sure he’ll be 100-percent ready too.”
So how does “The Artist” create a masterpiece on Sept. 30?
“I gotta stay calm and keep the game plan in my mind, and achieve it that night,” answered Perez. “Don’t let nothing distract me, don’t fall into his fight or anything like that – just fight my fight.”
Petrov (37-4-2, 18 KOs) also spoke briefly with Ringtv.com at the media workout.
“This is one of the best camps I’ve had in my career,” the Spain-based Russian said confidently through his Spanish translator. “Starting with part of my training camp in Madrid with my brother Vlade, and now here in the last two months with my trainer Danny Zamora, and my strength trainer, Jerry Arias. This is one of the best training camps I’ve had.”
After first fighting for a world title at junior welterweight in 2011, where he was stopped by Marcos Maidana, Petrov believes a world title shot at lightweight suits him far better.
“This is my weight class,” he stated. “It’s easy to make the weight, and my body is stronger.”
The Russian quickly put down any thought of treating this as a final shot at a world title by replying sternly, “No. I’m just getting started at 33 years old, and I’m still young.”
Oddly enough, Petrov had the same things to say about his counterpart.
“I don’t know, we’re gonna see on the 30th,” he said when asked what Perez’s strengths were. Same thing goes for Perez’s consistent ability to be involved in head clashes.
“No, I don’t worry about those things,” said Petrov. “In a fight, anything can happen, and I’m prepared for anything.”
Prepared is right, as Petrov has one of the best cut men in the business working his corner in this fight: Mike Rodriguez.
The timing of this WBA eliminator couldn’t be better as the WBA lightweight belt will be fought for this Saturday, Sept. 24, in Manchester. It is there local hero Anthony Crolla, the defending WBA titleholder, will take on the toughest opponent of his career, Jorge Linares. The winner of Perez-Petrov will become the mandatory opponent to the winner of Crolla-Linares, and signifying how even of a match Saturday’s showdown is, Perez and Petrov were hard-pressed to pick a winner.
“I think it’s a good even match,” said Perez. “I don’t really know much about Crolla, I’ve seen him, I think, once. I know Linares – he’s fast – got a lot of skills. So, I think maybe Linares wins. I really don’t know.”
“I think it’s a good fight,” said Petrov. “Both are very good fighters. It’s a 50/50 fight and the truth is, I don’t know who will come out on top.”