By Jake Donovan
If there was a downside to Eloy Perez’ 6th round stoppage of Ira Terry last week on Telefutura, it’s that the undefeated super featherweight knew that he was done for the year.
The sole reason he accepted the fight on short notice – less than three weeks out, and just eight weeks after his 2nd round knockout of Daniel Jimenez – was because it was the last available date on Telefutura, which has showcased each of his last six bouts.
It wasn’t the fight he had in mind for his 2011 finale. Once on the table was a showdown with Adrien Broner for a vacant super featherweight title. The showdown of unbeaten contenders would’ve served as Perez’ HBO debut, but would also require his traveling to Broner’s hometown of Cincinnati.
While not averse to the road trip, his handlers felt that for what was being offered the fight was a bit premature and could grow into something bigger down the road. Broner kept the HBO date and will now face Vicente Rodriguez of Argentina in the split-site broadcast.
Meanwhile, Perez and his handlers figure out the fighter’s next move.
The plan is to return in late January or early February in a fight they hope will land on HBO or Showtime. What they also hope is that it’s a fight which leads to a bigger fight, as opposed just fighting for the sake of doing so.
Perez has one fight in particular, though he knows it require a bit of leg work to get there.
“I want Juan Carlos Salgado,” Perez bluntly states of the current super featherweight titlist, who in fact fights again next month in his native Mexico. “I will fight whoever I have to in order to get to him. After I beat Salgado, then I will target Broner in a unification bout. I want to get to the elite stage in boxing and know that 2012 will be that year.”
A showdown with Salgado in theory would be a fan-friendly affair that would make for great TV on any network. In reality, it’s a bout that can’t yet happen until Perez is ranked by the sanctioning body that claims Salgado as its champion. Hence, his willingness to take any fight that will lead to such a ranking.
That’s where his handlers come in. Manager Kathy Garcia has been working feverishly to ensure that her fighter’s next ring appearance is a fight reflective of his talent and current standing as a budding breakout star in a fully-loaded super featherweight division.
“Eloy is exactly where we thought he would be after 4 ½ years with us,” Garcia states. “This coming year will not be about more experience, but about getting the bigger fights. We had that opportunity (with Broner) but it just didn’t work out. So now, we’re looking at someone like Juan Carlos Salgado, who always comes to fight.”
Broner and Perez both fight under the Golden Boy Promotions banner, while Salgado is with HG Boxing in Mexico. Given the sport’s politics, it would seem easier for Perez to land a fight where his promoter controls both sides.
However, Garcia suggests a different set of politics will be in place shortly after Thanksgiving weekend, which is why they’ve set their sights elsewhere.
“Everything is designed for Broner to win the title. I don’t think he will turn around in his first title defense and fight us,” Garcia believes. “In the meantime, we need to fight for a title. The WBO title will be elusive for the first part of the year and we would like Eloy in a title fight in the first half of the year.”
Perez is on board with that plan, and is also realistic about the likelihood of negotiations with Broner reopening anytime in the near future. All that matters to the Bay Area-based fighter is that he’s in the mix within his next couple of fights, whether or not Broner is part of the picture.
“I honestly don’t care about Broner. I’m glad he’s fighting for the title because I want to be the one to take it from him. First, I want Salgado, so whoever I have to fight to get to him will be next in line.”
His handlers are on the hunt for such an opponent, though one that will also engage them in a fight, as opposed to just occupying ring space. Perez’ knockout to win ratio is on the low side as far as TV fighters go, although he has scored stoppages in each of his last two fights.
The issue in his less-than-glossy KO percentage is two-fold, as far as his manager is concerned – only recently developing into his style, and the lack of opposition willing to fight back once they’re in the ring with him.
By her own admission, Garcia hasn’t had much luck when it comes to finding opponents to properly showcase the best Perez has to offer. That needs to change, beginning with his next fight, especially if the intention is to make a splash with the likes of HBO and Showtime.
“He’s sitting on his punches more and is more confident in his style. There’s no doubt that Daniel Jimenez made him more comfortable,” Garcia points out. “We need to find the opponents that will make HBO want to bring him back. The first time that HBO has a chance to look at our guy, we get a guy that’s 6’0” and on steroids.”
Garcia refers to Gilberto Sanchez-Leon, who dropped a decision to Perez on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s win over Shane Mosley last May. Post-fight drug tests revealed traces of a banned substance in Sanchez-Leon’s system, earning him a suspension on top of the loss.
Six wins have followed against opposition that has helped him advance from prospect to contender, but the time has now come to take it up a notch.
“Telefutura has been wonderful for us and for Eloy’s progress,” Garcia states, appreciative of the exposure Perez has gained from frequent appearances on the Solo Boxeo circuit. “But in order to make the money he deserves, we have to make that jump to HBO. That’s what we’re looking for in his next fight, against anyone that fits the bill and will fight him.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]