By Bill Green
This week’s co-main event on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights will feature Denver’s own, Manny Perez 16-7-1(4), as he faces Edgar “El Chamaco” Santana 26-3(17) of New York. The bout will take place at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino in Dover, DE tonight, with Santana’s NABA light welterweight Title at stake.
Manny Perez fights out of the House of Pain boxing gym in Denver. Some may say that Perez isn’t ready for a fighter like Santana based on the two fighters’ records. Santana only has three losses and boasts more knockouts than Perez has wins.
However, Perez is one of those rare fighters that it is much better than his record indicates. His career jumped off to a 6-0 start, but he wanted more than what was being offered and took a trio fights away from Colorado. He would lose all three of those fights but would gain tremendous experience along the way.
Perez rebounded, winning five straight in 2007 and collecting minor belts along the way. The following year was filled with several moral victories, proving his mettle in a loss to then-unbeaten Matt Remillard and a draw to Brandon Rios, who currently rates as one of the sport’s most thrilling stars. Perez would later lose a rematch with Rios but the fight was stopped due to cuts Perez received during the bout. Many boxing insiders had the fight close on the score cards before the bout was stopped.
The years would pass by but the trend continued – valiant in defeat while taking on the best young fighters the sport had to offer. Such was reflected in separate points losses to Diego Magdaleno in 2010 and unbeaten Mercito Gesta one year later. Many boxing insiders felt as if his fight with Gesta was much closer than the judges scored, with some believing the two fought on dead even terms.
BoxingScene caught up with Manny Perez to get his thoughts prior to tonight’s fight.
Manny, you started your career fast, including winning six in a row. Why the decision to fight away from Colorado?
Manuel Perez: “I know I could have padded my record like some fighters do, but opportunities presented themselves. I like to fight for titles and not be there just for a paycheck.”
Talk about the Rios wars, do you think you’re just made for Rios, style wise?
Perez: Yes, I think our styles will always be crowd pleasing and we mesh well together. He is a great fighter. I felt like I won the first fight and in the second fight, he broke my nose in the 2nd round and in the end we just couldn’t control the bleeding. We asked for a third bout but basically never heard back. No regrets though, Brandon is a great fighter.”
Having already fought two of the world’s best prospects, what are your thoughts on both Gesta and Magdaleno?
Perez: “Magdaleno is a great boxer; I had a bit of trouble making weight for that fight but no excuses. I learned from that fight, that you need to be in the gym and stay ready for when that phone rings. The Gesta fight, I still believe I won or at least deserved a draw. I watched this fight over and over and can’t see where the judge’s came up with those score cards. We asked for a rematch, but never heard back from their camp.”
What do you know about your opponent in Edgar Santana?
Perez: “I know that he is a wild swinger and likes to bang with big hooks. I need to stay disciplined, stay sharp, avoid the big shots, and make him pay with counters. I expect a tough fight.”
How much does this fight mean to you, especially being part of the co-main event on ESPN?
Perez: “Wow, it means a lot to me and my family. I have fought on Telefutara and Fox Sports before but ESPN Friday Night Fights wow! It’s basically like making it, you know. With all my ups and downs, it feels like I made the show.”
With the fight being closer to Santana’s home town than yours, what do you have to do to score an upset against the more favored fighter in Santana?
Perez: “I need to win every second of every round. I need to win the close rounds big. I need to basically out work him, out think him, and out will him. We are prepared to fight an outside fight or to go to war in a phone booth. We prepared 8 weeks strong weeks for this fight.
Thank you, Manny. Anything you would like to say to Mr. Santana?
Perez: “Be prepared and come to fight. I’m in top shape. I’m coming baby. I can’t wait for Friday.” Tags: Boxing Television