By Ryan Maquiñana
Birthday No. 25 came and passed yesterday for unbeaten NABO junior lightweight beltholder Eloy “Prince” Perez, and aside from the usual gift-wrapped boxes and candle-laden cake, there was plenty to celebrate on the boxing front.
After only five of his first 23 pro bouts ended via stoppage, Perez (22-0-2, 6 KOs) scored a surprising second-round demolition of Daniel Jimenez eight weeks ago on TeleFutura in front of his hometown fans of Salinas, Calif.
The win garnered Perez some newfound attention by none other than his promoter Golden Boy, who then commenced arrangements to pit him against their other 130-pound prospect-turned-contender, Adrien Broner, for the newly vacated WBO crown.
Amid negotiations eventually falling through with some bad blood between the two beginning to boil, Perez has finally begun to turn a few heads in the boxing world, having been awarded NABO Fighter of the Year among other honors.
BoxingScene caught up with the rising contender, who along with assistant trainer Sam Garcia commented on negotiations with Broner, his recent power surge, and his upcoming TeleFutura “Solo Boxeo Tecate” headliner this Friday against Ira Terry (24-6, 14 KOs) in Salinas.
PEREZ ON HIS 25TH BIRTHDAY AND HIS RECENT ACCOLADES:
“It’s like I’m all over the place now. I just won NABO Fighter of the Year. I just saw myself in the Ring rankings. It’s crazy. To be honest, I just woke up, and I didn’t even know it was my birthday. I’ve been so focused on camp.”
PEREZ ON HIS MINDSET DURING THE JIMENEZ KNOCKOUT:
“I was just happy to get through it. Training camp was hard. It wasn’t really about the fight as much as what I had to do to get there. My trainers ran me hard. It showed in the fight. I couldn’t even sleep after the fight. I pulled an all-nighter because I still had all this energy. It didn’t even sink in until I got home.”
PEREZ ON WHETHER HE CAN SUSTAIN THIS POWER SURGE INTO FRIDAY:
“I think this time, I finally got a fighter who came to fight, and I showed what I could do when I’m given an opportunity to take advantage of it. I’m 25 years old and I’m still figuring everything out. I’m getting stronger every day and becoming more confident in my power working with the Garcias and Dean Familton.”
SAM GARCIA ON PEREZ’S PERCEIVED LACK OF POWER:
“If you look at the previous fights, not too many people saw the Dannie Williams fight, and Dannie Williams was face-first on the canvas in the first round. If you go back further, he stopped Juan Santiago.
“If you give Eloy a guy who comes to fight, Eloy will be able to show off his work better against somebody’s who’s willing to fight, willing to engage, and willing to put it on the line. Daniel Jimenez came in to win, and not to pull a [Omar] Narvaez against [Nonito] Donaire or an Alejandro Rodriguez, who came to survive. And when you have a situation like that, Eloy can use his speed and his power to hurt somebody, not just counterpunch.”
PEREZ ON MATCHING UP WITH TERRY:
“I’ve seen a couple of his fights on YouTube. That’s my trainer’s job to come up with the gameplan, and mine is to be prepared. I’ve seen some of fights of his, and I’m seeing how I can break him down. I’m going to do what I usually do, and that’s counterpunch and be accurate. I know he starts a little quick, and that’s it. I’m just focused on what my team has planned.”
PEREZ ON TERRY HAVING BEEN KNOCKED OUT FOUR CONSECUTIVE TIMES LEADING UP TO THIS FIGHT:
“I really don’t care what he’s done in the past. We’ll find out what he has in the ring and how hard he’s been able to prepare over the past few weeks. If I see an opening, I’ll take it, and if not, I’ll keep looking to get my timing down.”
PEREZ ON STAGING HIS SECOND STRAIGHT FIGHT IN SALINAS:
“I think it’s awesome. It’s always a positive thing for the city being able to have everyone be a part of it, and see what Garcia Boxing is all about. I just want to represent Salinas as best I can. We’ve had fighters like Chuy Rodriguez and Jose Celaya work with the Garcias, and now I just want to finish what they started.”
PEREZ ON FIGHTING ADRIEN BRONER:
“As far as Adrien Broner, I’m going to beat his ass when the time comes. Today, tomorrow, next month, next year, whenever it’s time for us to meet in the ring. When it comes to negotiations, Kathy Garcia my manager, my team, and Golden Boy Promotions—Oscar De La Hoya said they have bigger things for me—so that’s their job. My job as a fighter is just to be ready. I trust my promotional company and my team and my manager.
“And besides, why fight him now when it can be a bigger fight in the future when we both have titles? It can be bigger than what it could have been. We both have bigger fights ahead. So to answer your question, I would love to fight Adrien Broner, but he also has to come fight me somewhere fair. I’m not going to Cincinnati, and I know he doesn’t want to go to Salinas.”
GARCIA ON PEREZ’S ROAD AHEAD:
“I think we’re going to after the IBF. It depends on what they say. We love the WBO, and we’ve chased that prestigious title for a long time, but the way it’s working now, it’s going to be hard to work that out with Golden Boy having Adrien Broner in their stable and handing him the title. It makes sense for us to go after the IBF title and Juan Carlos Salgado who makes great action fights. I think that’s a fight that both of them could look good in, and I think Eloy would come in on top.
“Salgado’s got confidence in his power against boxer-types like Eloy. I mean, he stopped Jorge Linares, so that looks like the most aesthetically pleasing fight. The thing is, before we can get there, we need to get ranked higher than the top 25 in there.
“So we’re trying to get someone in the top 15 like Jason Litzau, Monty Meza-Clay, or Martin Honorio. There’s been talk about Vicente Escobedo, but we’re talking with the promoters to see if he even wants that fight. If we beat any of those guys, we’ll get a shot at Salgado down the line, then a unification megafight hopefully between Eloy and Broner in the summer or even the fall.”
PEREZ ON HIS TWO DEDICATIONS FOR FRIDAY’S FIGHT, ONE FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS AND ANOTHER FOR LIVER CANCER PATIENT SY SHERMAN:
“We have two dedications. First, we’re fighting for all the people who have dealt with breast cancer. Olaya Hernandez, who’s the sister of my trainer Max Garcia, and Malena Garcia, a family friend of ours, fought breast cancer and survived, so we will be fighting for them and all women who have dealt with it one way or another.
“About Sy, I read his story at lunch, and he’s a really tough kid who’s been through a lot. He’s nine years old, and he’s already going through chemo[therapy] every few weeks. For me, he’s a fighter, battling liver cancer, and having the courage to fight it. See this site for a good example. He’s fighting for his life every day. You don’t want anyone to go through what he’s doing, much less in childhood. I’ll definitely be fighting for them.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.