Nothing is stopping John Vera on his goal of contending at 154 or 160 pounds. His handlers have the same expectations as well.
Vera will face Cleotis ‘Mookie’ Pendarvis tonight at the Civic Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. The eight-round bout will headline a ‘five-bout’ UFC Fight Pass stream (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
At Wednesday’s weigh-in, both fighters weighed in at 160 pounds.
Tonight’s fight will be Vera’s first since defeating once-beaten Ravshan Hudaynazarov in August 2019. The win over Hudaynazarov almost a year and a half after losing by decision to middleweight contender Michel Soro over 12 one-sided rounds.
Vera (19-1, 11 knockouts), who resides in Fort Worth, Texas, has boxed more in recent fights as the level of opposition has improved. Three of his last four victories have gone the distance, with two of them by split or majority decision.
Roy Jones Jr. Promotions, which promotes Vera, believes the southpaw fighter can contend at either middle or junior middleweight.
“A victory tonight for Vera will get him right back into the discussions (of contenders) at 154 and 160 pounds,” matchmaker Guy Taylor told BoxingScene early Thursday morning.
Pendarvis (21-7-2, 9 KOs), who resides in Palmdale, California, was stopped in his last bout by unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Mekhrubon Sanginov on November 20. Pendarvis has lost his last three fights, including to Serhii Bohachuk, after winning his previous four.
The 34-year-old was considered a top prospect at 140 pounds until he was stopped by then-unbeaten Dierry Jean in May 2013. Despite Pendarvis’ recent struggles, Taylor believes tonight’s fight will be closer than people think.
“UFC Fight Pass fans should expect a very compelling matchup between two former contenders.”
In the co-feature, welterweight Christon Edwards (11-2, 6 KOs) of Houston, Texas will face Jonathan Steele in a six-round bout.
Edwards has won his last five bouts after back-to-back losses to Alexander Besputin and Edward Williams in 2016. Steele (9-6-1, 6 KOs), who resides in Duncanville, Texas, has lost five of his last six bouts.
In a clash of unbeaten junior lightweights, Eridson Garcia (10-0, 7 KOs), who is originally from the Dominican Republic and now resides in Houston, Texas, will square off against Jose Diaz Valenzuela (6-0, 1 KO) of Phoenix, Arizona in a six-round bout.
Welterweight Michael Williams, Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs) of Fayetteville, North Carolina will square off against San Marcos, Texas’ Mike Tutt (10-3-1, 4 KOs) in a six-round bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.