By Jake Donovan
Unbeaten heavyweight Mike Perez is prepared to move on from his bittersweet victory over Magomed Abdulsalamov on HBO in November, whose injuries suffered from the punishment absorbed forced him into a medically induced coma.
As the fallen heavyweight shows signs of improvement as time passes on, Perez continues with his ring career. The rising contender has been added to the undercard of the January 18 HBO-televised clash between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
Making his second straight appearance on the network, Perez will face Carlos Takam in a scheduled 10-round affair, serving as the opening leg of a televised tripleheader which serves as HBO’s first show of 2014.
Perez (20-0, 15KO) made quite a splash on his debut on HBO, which has been reluctant to showcase heavyweights in recent years and for good reason. The performance delivered by Perez drew rave reviews and provided hope that quality exists in the division beyond the Klitschko brothers. However, his performance was naturally overshadowed by the growing concern over Abdulsalamov’s well-being.
The Cameroon-born Takam (28-1, 22KO), now based in France, fights in Canada and outside of his adopted homeland for the first time in his career. Takam enters the fight riding a 10-fight win streak since the lone loss of his career in 2009. Among his current streak include knockout wins over faded former notable heavyweights Frans Botha and Michael Grant, the latter serving as his most recent ring appearance this past May.
Perez, born in Cuba but now fighting out of Ireland, makes his second straight appearance in North America, though—like his opponent—also travels north of the border for the first time in his career.
Also recently added to the undercard, unbeaten prospects Michael Zewski and Oscar Rivas appear in separate non-televised bouts.
The evening’s chief supporting bout pits a pair of unbeaten light heavyweights Eleider Alvavez (13-0, 8KO) versus Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13KO) in a 12-round title eliminator.
The bout between Bute and Pascal was originally scheduled for earlier this year, but pushed back to January after Bute injured his hand during training camp.
Pascal (28-2, 17KO) spent most of the past two years calling out every light heavyweight under the sun, but making more appearances at ringside than between the ropes. Just two fights have come since his light heavyweight title-ending loss to Bernard Hopkins in May ’11, landing on the wrong end of history as Hopkins became the oldest fighter ever to capture a lineal World championship.
The Haitian-Canadian wisely took a stay busy bout in September in the wake of the showdown with Bute having been postponed.
Bute (31-1, 24KO) hasn’t fought at all in 2013. His 2012 campaign was a mixed bag, suffering his first career loss when he was steamrolled by Carl Froch in five rounds on the road in England last May. A rematch clause was in the contract but never executed. Bute instead faced Denis Grachev in a catchweight bout, barely edging out the then-unbeaten prospect last November.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox