A long and successful amateur career usually implies a boxer knows how to adapt. Countless times an amateur fighter will show up at an arena and learn the identity of his opponent just hours before he has to square off against him. For Fremont California’s Jose “The Punisher” Perez, hard work and that rapid adaptability which garnered him an amateur record of 147-20, has him climbing the pro-ranks on the talent rich West Coast.
Photo © Jesus Sanchez
Perez is currently 6-0 with four kayos as a professional featherweight and on Friday night he looks for win number seven on the undercard of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights Main Event, Jose Celaya versus James Webb. Should chance turn in his direction and a few of Friday’s fights end early, Perez might land on the televised portion of ESPN’s card.
“Yeah we’re hoping we do.” Perez is excited by the possibility of appearing in front of a live worldwide audience. “We’re trying to get a TV fight, a six rounder…that’d be, that’d be great.” His opponent this week is the much heralded TBA and so like those days in the amateurs, Perez has no information on his opponent and what type of style he may bring into the ring. “We had somebody but they didn’t accept the contract…they backed out.”
The Punisher can’t always predict what he’ll face as he climbs the ranks so he and his trainer/manager/father, Jose Perez Sr, prepare for any and everything. Together the father and son work hard to make sure The Punisher is fully prepared for combat, but can’t this disciplined lifestyle strain a father-son relationship?
“As a trainer it’s all right. He’s always on my ass because I’m living with him. You can’t do this, you can’t eat this; but i know he’s just trying to look out for me. It’s tough but it works out for the best.”
With just a few days left before his seventh bout young Perez is over the really rigorous portion of work at Camp Punisher. “We’re just kind of doing the running and tapering it down. Trying to make the weight, we’ve only got a week left. We’re kind of taking it easy.”
Sparring ended last week for Perez and now he waits to find an opponent for Friday night. It’s nothing new for the former amateur who fought all the way to the Olympic Trials losing in a close bout that kept him off the team; a loss that still stings.
“I’m still a little bit upset. But you know things happened and I just gotta get over it. I’ll go the long way instead of the short way. I can’t be crying about it all the time. I gotta get over it and do what I gotta do.”
Today the southpaw is learning that the pro-ranks require more strength as in-fighting and grappling with an opponent in the clinches is far more prevalent than in the amateur ranks.
“Taking the headgear off was the main thing and getting used to the ref. In the amateurs you get a point taken away and that’s the fight right there. Because all those fights are real close fights.
As a professional Perez has had to work harder and he’s added strength training to his daily regiment.
“The amateurs were a lot easier. Training wasn’t as fierce. Especially with the strength training. It [in the amateurs] was just all, well, it wasn’t really about power; you just have to touch the guy to score a point and that was it. But now you’ve got to hurt the guys. So it’s about building your strength up. I’m training over here at Palo Alto at a place called Heptagon. They’ve helped me out a lot…my last two fights, I stopped the guys.”
Another aspect of the sport Perez now enjoys exploring is the world of body punching, something almost uncommon in amateur boxing.
“Oh yeah, my dad always likes me to go to the body. In the amateurs it didn’t really mean that much so i didn’t really concentrate that much on it. But now with the eight ounce gloves I go down there and I’m hurting guys and stopping them. Yeah I like to do it now a lot.”
When it comes to body-punching one current champion who excels at the art is Marco Antonio Barrera, and before he turned pro Perez got a taste of that first hand. Before Barrera’s fight with Pacquiao, Perez spent time in Barrera’s camp and even sparred with the ring legend.
“It was an experience. That guy can hit to the body real good. (laughs) It was pretty fun. We were training up in Big Bear…That was pretty tough with that altitude and everything. Everything was a lot harder. He goes like longer rounds and everything was a lot harder than i thought it would be. I wasn’t pro yet when i was sparring with him but it sort of gave me a heads up on what i would have to do to be a world champion.”
Becoming a champion is what all young fighters dream of and sweat long hours working towards, and in the talent rich featherweight division the possibilities are endless for a young prospect.
“It’s starting to pop right now…The heavyweights; there’s no big names there right now. It’s mainly all about featherweights like Morales, Barrera and Pacquiao…within a year the new guys will have their chance, like me.”
With a little luck boxing fans will get to see this featherweight called The Punisher take another step towards becoming a contender on Friday night.
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