By Keith Idec
Carlos Takam was too much, too soon for Mike Perez.
Entering his Jan. 18 fight against Takam, Perez was mentally and physically fatigued from a unanimous-decision victory over Magomed Abdusalamov on Nov. 2 that left Abdusalamov in a coma, fighting for his life. The Cuban southpaw had a small window between the Abdusalamov bout and the beginning of training camp for the Takam match, but Perez and his handlers felt another HBO bout was an opportunity they couldn’t bypass.
Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) struggled during a 10-round majority draw with Cameroon’s Takam (30-1-1, 23 KOs) at Bell Centre in Montreal.
“I don’t think there was enough time to fight,” Perez said on a recent conference call. “I just [fought] like 80 days, 70 days [earlier]. I just [fought] in November and then I [fought] in January again. So this is what I think of that. I think that I mentally was not ready for that.”
The 28-year-old Perez has an opportunity Saturday at Madison Square Garden to eliminate some of the damage that performance did to his reputation. Perez, who now calls Ireland home, will face Philadelphia’s Bryant Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs) in a WBC elimination match that’ll earn the winner a title shot.
“The fight before that [against Abdusalamov] was really a tough, physical fight for both fighters,” said Tom Loeffler, managing director for K2 Promotions. “I agree with Mike. In hindsight, it was probably too quick to bring him back. I was anxious to put him back on HBO as quickly as possible, and it seemed prior to the fight everything was fine. But you could see probably in the performance he was a little bit flat. Now that he has had some time off and he’s worked with [trainer] Adam [Booth] for a number of months now, I think you’ll see a different Mike Perez coming in July 26th.”
The Jennings-Perez clash will open HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” broadcast at 9:30 p.m. ET. Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) is set to defend his WBA middleweight title against Australia’s Daniel Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) in the main event.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.