“The Brick City Bullet” Alex Perez Gets Justice, but Fights for More By Les Dowgier (July 16, 2010) For Doghouse Boxing and BrickCityBoxing
Boxing is not for the timid or faint of heart. It is a tough, gritty world filled with men exuding the same characteristics. It is not a sport doctors “play” at the club on weekends. You don’t “do” or “play” boxing. In boxing, it is a fight. Perhaps for that reason, so many boxers have backgrounds that required them to fight one way or another for so much of their life. Though there are exceptions, you’ll rarely find sons of doctors, lawyers or stockbrokers from affluent backgrounds in the ring. Few other sports have stories like boxing, and Alex “The Brick City Bullet” Perez is one such story. His is a story of triumph and tribulation, of great highs and
great lows and most importantly, a story of friendship and loyalty. Perez will be fighting in his biggest fight to date, as the co-feature on July 16 in Main Event’s “Brick City Boxing Series” at the Prudential Arena in Newark, New Jersey which will air on ESPN2 at 9pm.
This is the type of story fit for Hollywood and can certainly be written like a dramatic screen play. Setting: It's the middle of yet another muggy, humid summer night at the Baxter Terrace Projects, Newark, New Jersey. It is uncharacteristically still and quiet, however, the Perez family is one of the last remaining families in the hulking red brick projects before they were to be condemned. Suddenly, the family is startled by a loud thumping on the door followed by a loud voice, “Newark Police! Open the door!” This sounds like it's closer to the end of the story rather than the beginning, so in order to get the full story we must rewind a few years.
Alex Perez grew up on the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Running the streets of Newark, he encountered his fair share of trouble. However, unlike his peers, Alex had a special talent, he could box and perhaps as importantly, his talent was noticed by local boxing trainer, Jose Rosario who became like a stepfather to the young fighter. Rosario did all he could to focus the young fighter’s energy towards boxing and did an admirable job, helping Alex amass an impressive 56-3 amateur record. However, as a coach and stepfather, there is only so much that one can do, and Alex himself admits that if it wasn’t for his continued running around on the street of the Brick City, his amateur exploits would’ve been even more impressive.
In December of 2004, Alex first showcased his great potential and talent in the professional ranks, winning by an impressive first round knockout. It seemed like Alex was taking his first steps toward his dream and was leaving the street behind. Only 6 short weeks later, that perception was shattered by two bullets which also shattered Alex’s ribs around his chest and stomach. The streets had caught up with Alex and threatened to derail his professional career only 8 short weeks after it began. But, true to the grit and toughness which exemplifies the sport, Alex was back in the ring a mere 6 months later, achieving another 1st round knockout.
Finally, it appeared as is Perez’s career was back on track and heading in the right direction. Over the following two years, the talented southpaw compiled a record of 9-0 with 5 Kos and was coined “The Brick City Bullet” by his friend from the gym, Danny Serratelli. However, true to any Hollywood drama, the protagonist must face more challenges, and Alex did just that. After finally righting his path, Alex’s career was hit with another unexpected obstacle; his long-time trainer learned that his wife was suffering with cancer. Between his daytime job, working for Essex County, and taking care of his ailing wife, Rosario found it difficult to devote time to the career of his young charge. Perez would remain out of the ring for 15 months. Though other promoters and managers came calling on the promising young fighter, when asked why he didn’t accept these offers and leave Rosario, Alex simply answered, “I’ve got loyalty.” Perez, takes loyalty very seriously and has a very small and very close knit team who back each other up. Unlike so often in life, Alex's loyalty would be returned …in spades.
After this 15 month layoff, Rosario arranged to get Perez back in the ring. Fighting in Puerto Rico, Alex fought for the WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation welterweight title in the first 10 rounder of his career. Despite the rust and the new difficult circumstances, Alex increased his win total to 10 via unanimous decision. Once again, true to any good dramatic story, each small triumph must be met with a challenge; and this brings us back to that summer night at the Baxter Terrace Projects.
“Newark Police! Open the door!” Alex, still half asleep walks over to the door to find two Newark Police officers standing in the door way. What was to follow was like a nightmare. Suddenly, Alex is being taken out of his apartment, handcuffed and informed that he’s under arrest for armed robbery. Still not fully awake, Alex is in disbelief. When he gets to the police station he immediately calls Rosario to help make sense of this situation. Rosario then made the phone call that would turn out to not only salvage Alex’s career, but also save his life. Rosario called former pupil and current attorney and friend Danny Serratelli.
Serratelli is no stranger to the streets of Newark and its surrounding towns or the interior of boxing gyms. Born and bred in the Brick City and having trained under many top trainers including the watchful eye of Rosario, Serratelli grew up training in the area's boxing gyms since he was a teenager. After being in a serious car accident as well as several broken noses and hands over the years he decided to channel the same energy and passion he applied in the ring to a career in law, to become, what his friends and clients affectionately call, “The Fight Lawyer.” Despite his new career, Serratelli remained closely involved in the sport, and still trains fighters. He has always kept in touch with many of the fighters with whom he trained, which included Alex Perez, to whom he had become something of a big brother.
When he got the phone call he immediately rushed to the jail to see his “little brother.” He immediately realized the gravity of the situation and soon learned the details of the alleged crime. Apparently, two vagrants who had been in the abandoned portions of the Baxter Terrace Project claimed that someone had robbed them at gun point and identified Alex's car as that of the perpetrator. Later, these same two individuals indentified Perez as man who robbed them. Despite the questionable reliability of eye witnesses, especially ones such as the two individuals in this case, this was enough for the authorities to arrest and charge Alex. Long story short, Perez was facing up to 30 years for gun possession and armed robbery. Bail was set at $250,000.
Things were looking bleak for Alex, a kid from the streets who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time before, he probably would not be the most sympathetic defendant in front of a jury. He was misinformed that he had tested positive on a gun powder test which would prove he was the shooter, there were two eyewitnesses who identified Alex as the robber and his bail was set at a staggering quarter of a million dollars. The only thing to do at this point is to hire a lawyer and a good one, but that requires money, and quite a bit of it; something neither Alex nor his family could provide. Luckily for Alex, he wasn’t the only person who took loyalty seriously. Serratelli, Alex’s gym mate, friend, and “big brother” immediately took the case pro bono.
The first step was getting the bail reduced and Serratelli skillfully managed to get Alex’s bail reduced substantially. Alex’s family, including his father Sergeant William Perez, a long time military man (who was in Iraq at the time) and friends banded together at this point to raise the money necessary to pay a bail bondsman. The first small battle had been won, but the major confrontation was still ahead. Alex did his best to keep his mind off the case and focus on his career. He spent time in the training camp of Sergio Martinez, preparing him for his showdown with the rangy left-handed Paul Williams. Despite Alex’s anxiety about what might happen he knew his friend would do everything in his power to advocate on his behalf.
The legal system often moves with all the speed of frozen maple syrup and Alex’s anxiety and uncertainty went on for months. But finally, Alex found out that his faith in was well founded and all charges against Perez were dismissed. Alex was free.
Is this the end of the story? Alex certainly hopes not. Though so far his life’s toughest challenges have been met with happy endings, the story has not yet reached THE happy ending. That part of the story will continue to be written when Alex will enter the ring as a professional for the 13th time as the co-feature on Main Events ESPN 2 against his toughest opponent to date Brazilian, Edvan Dos Santos Barros with his big brother and step father right there by his side.
The card will feature the return of Zab “Super” Judah vs. Jose Armando Santa Cruz in the main event of the evening as well as local favorites, Nicky DeMarco and Pat “Paddy Boy” Ferrell.