By Luis Sandoval
It was a battle of undefeated fighters as highly touted Colombian Darley Perez edged out a split decision against the crafty Bahodir Mamadjonov. The fight was showcased as the ESPN Friday Night Fights main event from the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, CA. Mamadjonov was a replacement for Perez’s original opponent, Michael Katsidis, who pulled out of the fight after he suffered a knee injury last month. If Perez was expecting an easier assignment by taking on the Uzbekistan southpaw, he soon found out that was not the case.
The fight started out with a cautious round as both fighters kept a very slow pace. Perez stalked his shorter foe while Mamadjonov was content with using his movement and throwing straight lefts to the body.
As Perez tried to press the action in the second round, Mamadjonov unleashed a three punch combination that hurt and wobbled Perez as he immediately grabbed his opponent to buy some time. Visibly shaken, Perez managed to make it out of the round. It was not the kind of start the Colombian was expecting as he found himself in an early hole.
Things would get worse before they got better for Perez who struggled to get his offense going against the elusive Mamadjonov who used his movement and speed to stay out of range. If that wasn’t enough, he was also making Perez miss repeatedly while returning his own fire and moving out before Perez could do anything about it. The constant movement by Mamadjonov would not allow Perez to set as he would follow but couldn’t touch him with anything he threw.
By the fifth round it was starting to look like Mamadjonov would be walking away with a victory as he had the fight under control and had rendered Perez to looking baffled and having no answers to the puzzle standing in front of him.
However, in round six things began to change as Perez was finally able to close the distance. For the first time in the fight Perez was able to land his long right hand and trap Mamadjonov in a corner and go to work. It was taking a great amount of energy for Mamdjonov to continue to move around the ring and he seemed to wear down a bit as Perez began mounting his attack.
The impressive thing about Perez was his ability to remain composed and focused as he finally was able to figure out his opponent. Punches that were landing on Perez earlier in the fight were now being blocked and it was now his punches that were finding a home against Mamadjonov.
In the eight round as Perez was surging, he landed a hard right uppercut that dropped Mamadjonov as he had trapped in a corner. Mamadjonov would get up and Perez impressively didn’t jump all over his opponent. Instead, he continued his measured attack and started landing timed right hand counters while working his opponents body to further slow him down. He was systematically breaking his opponent down and neutralizing anything the Uzbekistan fighter tried to do.
It was more of the same down the stretch as Perez had now taken full control of the fight. Feeling the urgency and the fight slipping from his grasp, Mamadjonov began to mount his offense once again but with little success. The Colombian had worked his way back into the fight and had all the momentum.
The fight would go the distance and after ten rounds Perez was awarded a split decision victory with scores of 96-93, 95-94 and one score of 95-94 in favor of Mamadjonov.
Darley Perez made an impressive comeback in fight that he seemed to be on his way to losing. While it might not have been the dominating performance he would’ve wanted, he showed just as much in being able to figure out an elusive and awkward fighter like Mamadjonov.
We’ve seen many Colombian fighters come to the US with undefeated records who possess punching power that seems to mask underlying deficiencies that are exposed when they step up in competition. For Perez, he proved to be the exception as there is obviously also skill to go along with his power.
Perez improved to 26-0 and this experience will be beneficial to the hard hitting Colombian who undoubtedly will make some noise in the Lightweight division.
UNDERCARD: CHRIS AVALOS DEFEATS VICENTE
Chris Avalos looked to put his career back on track after suffering two setback losses as he took on undefeated Yenifel Vicente in the nights co-feature fight. It was a much needed win for Avalos who from the beginning worked behind his jab and controlled the distance. The jab was something we have seldom seen from the young fighter but it was a vital tool in his route to a ten round unanimous decision victory.
Vicente, who was making his US debut, found himself in an early hole as Avalos controlled the distance by pumping his jab, landing combinations and getting out. The Dominican’s record seemed to imply he had power but it would be a while before he got a chance to land anything as Avalos kept him at bay and peppered him with combinations.
In the fifth round however, Vicente made it a point to pick up the pace and mix it up with Avalos but it ended up costing him as he was dropped by a hard left hook in one of their exchanges. Vicente would beat the count but finished on unsteady legs as Avalos continued his attack.
While Avalos still has some holes in his game, he has shown some improvements. His attack was much more measured and was patient working behind his jab and keeping the shorter Vicente on the outside. The second half of the fight was fought at close quarters as both fighters worked on the inside and there was more holding and clinching.
Sensing time was running out for him, Vicente once again tried to pick up the pace and close the distance. While he had some success landing clean punches on Avalos, it wouldn’t be enough as it would be Avalos who would be awarded a Unanimous decision victory with scores of 97-92 across the board.
Avalos looks to have righted the ship with a good hard fought comeback win.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter @Truewest007. You can also tune in to The Boxing Lab, BoxingScene’s official audio show every Tuesday from 6-8PM PST with hosts Ernest Gabion, Luis Sandoval, and Ryan Burton.