By Jake Donovan
HBO makes its boxing debut Saturday evening, offering a doubleheader which airs live from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. The main event pits two of the nation’s most popular attractions, as fellow transplants Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute meet in a scheduled 12-round light heavyweight affair.
That makes the televised co-feature the very first fight of HBO’s 2014 boxing season, as Mike Perez faces Carlos Takam in a scheduled 10-round heavyweight matchup.
Perez (20-0, 12KO) made a huge splash in his HBO debut last November, providing the heavyweight division with some much needed action and hope for the future. However, his notoriety came at the cost of his opponent, Magomed Abdulsalamov suffering punishment to the point of requiring emergency brain surgery.
Tonight’s fight is dedicated in honor of his opponent, but it remains to be seen if Perez, a Cuban southpaw who lives and trains in Ireland, can pick up where he left off or if there exists fear of inflicting similar punishment on future opponents.
Takam (29-1, 23KO), a Cameroon-born heavyweight based out of France, fights outside of Europe for the first time in his career. He enters the fight riding an eight-fight win streak, including recent victories over retreads Frans Botha and Michael Grant.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS – MIKE PEREZ vs. CARLOS TAKAM
“I’ll go with Perez to win a decision here.”
- Damien Acevedo (Perez by decision)
“The heavyweight division needs more like Perez, but the obvious wild card here is where his mind is given his last fight. Dedicating the bout to Magomed Abdulsalamov is a noble gesture; how inspired the southpaw will be in the ring remains to be seen. My hunch is that while the intentions are there, he eases off the gas a bit, offering enough to keep Takam honest, but boxing his way to a decision.”
- Jake Donovan (Perez by decision)
“Takam is one hell of a fighter, his chin is very solid, he is tough and durable but his skills lack refinement, and he is not a good boxer at all. That'll be a reminiscent of his sad fight against Magomed Abdusalamov, and the only hope is that nothing bad will happen to the health of boxers in this particular contest. That's said, Perez is expected to deliver a prolonged beating on Takam if he is fully (albeit mentally) recovered from his last, tragic outing.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Perez by decision)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox