Tuesday 23 January 2018

Perez eyes Prizefighter glory and shot at Haye or Klitschko

Bernard O'Neill

UNBEATEN Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez believes that it is his destiny to bring a world title back to Ireland after he brings the Prizefighter trophy and a purse worth £32,000 back to his adopted city of Cork.

Nicknamed 'The Rebel', Perez is planning to call out Wladimir Klitschko or David Haye if he wins out tonight's Prizefighter Series at the Alexander Palace in London.

The Sancti Spiritus-born southpaw was originally drawn against Haye's sparring partner Fres Oquendo for the one-night dust-up featuring eight fighters from eight different nations.

However, the Puerto Rican has withdrawn and Perez, who boxes out of Cork's Watergrasshill BC under Patrick Thomas, will now meet Trinidad and Tobago puncher Kertson Manswell.

Former world title challenger Kevin Johnston has also pulled out along with Cuban Juan Carlos Gomez, making Perez the bookies' favourite to claim the purse.

The favourite tag has proven to be the kiss of death for Prizefighters in the past, but Perez believes he can break that curse. "My baby girl Mia was born in March and she is my pride and joy and I will dedicate my Prizefighter victory to her," said the 25-year-old who, like Ireland's Joe Ward, won an AIBA World Junior title.

"The withdrawals don't concern me. I had sparred both Oquendo and Johnson before, so I would have had no problems with either.

"Now I am facing Manswell, but I don't care who they put in front of me, the result will be the same.

"Once I get Prizefighter out of the way I want to chase down the winner of the Klitschko and Haye fight. The heavyweight division has not had any excitement for a long time, but I want to get people talking about the heavyweights again, starting this weekend."

Elsewhere, John Joe Nevin's Paris United will have to overturn a one-bout disadvantage going into today's second leg of their World Series of Boxing Team Championships final with Astana Arlans of Kazakhstan, following a first-leg defeat in China yesterday.

The Parisians lost 3-2 to the Kazakh side and need to win at least four from today's five-bout clash at Guizhou University in Guiyang City to claim a $500,000 purse. Cavan bantamweight Nevin meets 2004 Olympian Mirzhan Rakhimshanov of Kazakhstan in the 54kg curtain-raiser.

The Irish 2008 Olympian, who is signed to a three-year deal with United, has signalled his intentions to move up to lightweight (57kg-61kg in the WSB next season.

However, the 21-year-old Irishman will be giving it one last shot at the WSB bantamweight (54kg) limit today and says he's confident of victory. "I think we'll win 4-1," he said. "We're well capable of winning it out."

Irish Independent

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