By Thomas Gerbasi
Theater, Madison Square Garden, New York City - In the co-main event, Cuba'’s Mike Perez and Russia'’s Magomed Abdusalamov engaged in one of the best heavyweight fights of recent years, with Perez pounding out a well-deserved 10 round unanimous decision to win the USNBC title.
Scores were 97-92 twice and 95-94 for Perez, now 20-0 with 12 KOs; Abdusalamov falls to 18-1 with 18 KOs.
Perez took the fight to Abdusalamov at the sound of the opening bell and he didn’t stop throwing at the Russian, even rocking him with a left with 1:18 remaining in the round.
Hoping to get some payback, Makhachkala’s Abdusalamov shot out fast to start round two, and for the next three minutes, both fighters stayed in the pocket and fired off power shots. In the process, they provided more heavyweight action than the last three Wladimir Klitschko fights combined, something the crowd certainly appreciated.
There was more of the same heated action in the third, but as Perez dug to the body to try and wear his foe down, he was also showing signs of fatigue, allowing Abdusalamov to tee off with punches that were landing but just missing the sweet spot that would end the fight.
The fourth was a good round for Abdusalamov, as his thudding shots began to separate the two on the scorecards, but by the fifth, Perez was back it, pursuing Abdusalamov across the ring, and he kept it going in round six.
By round seven, Abdusalamov’s face was a swollen mess, and you got the idea that if Perez had a little more power, he would have been able to close the show. Abdusalamov wasn’t ready to go away though, and he rallied late in the seventh and the eighth.
In the ninth, referee Benjy Esteves deducted a point from Perez for a low blow, but by the end of the round, both fighters were going at it as if they needed to get that point back. The same thing happened in the tenth, and finally, with 1:06 remaining, Perez rocked Abdusalamov. The Russian wouldn’t go down though, and soon enough he was firing back, ending the bout on his feet and fighting.Tags: Mike Perez , Magomed Abdusalamov