Some boxers are referred to as gatekeepers, while others can be defined as spoilers.
Gatekeepers have talent, but can’t quite cut the mustard. A spoiler has an unusual style that might give him an advantage during a bout.
Rising super featherweight Alejandro Perez (17-3, 11 KOs) is no gatekeeper, but he does have something of a spoiler inside him.
Perez always comes to fight. His advantage is in his unending work ethic, and opponents who underestimate him.
Ask Antonio Escalante. Two years ago, Escalante faced Perez in what he thought would be an easy comeback fight.
Perez starched Escalante in the first round.
Last February, Perez squared off against undefeated hotshot Art Hovhannisyan.
Perez snapped Hovhanniyan’s 15-fight victory streak, winning by unanimous decision.
Perez was born twenty-seven years ago in Jacona, Michoácan, Mexico. He came to the United States at the age of seven. He realizedat a young age that boxing was his passion.
“I truly believe that the beautiful sport of boxing found me,” Perez told this writer during a recent telephone interview. “I fell in love with the sport right away. I was a little kid when I began to box.
Perez had a couple of fighters he admired early on.
“As far back as I can remember, I remember watching Julio Cesar Chavez Sr,” he said. “I remember being surrounded by a lot of different grown-ups who screamed, 'Chavez'over and over.
“I have an older brother who fought professionally,” Perez recalled. “I looked up to him. He was my hero as a fighter, brother and friend.”
Perez turned professional while still a teenager.
“I began my pro career at age 18,” said Perez. “I'm a fighter, a man who doesn't like to start something and leave it unfinished. As a result, I always finish what I start”
Hector Vallandarez has trained Perez his entire career. The boxer's loyalty to Vallandarez is unquestioned.
“I've always said, the day that he stops training me for X reason, is the day my career is over,” Perez said. “It's a matter of respect that exists between us.”
Does Perez feel that some of his opponents misjudge his ability?
“Yes, I was called just two and half weeks before the Escalante fight, “said Perez. “I do believe that his corner underestimated me.
“They may have thought that I had been out of the gym, and that I would be an easy opponent. However, they were not counting on me being in great shape,” he added.
Perez is so dedicated to his calling that many at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles call him a “gym rat.” The fighter agrees, refusing to miss any workouts.
“Rain or shine, I’m in the gym,” said Perez with obvious pride.
Perez lost a tough decision to number one ranked super featherweight Diego Magdaleno two years ago. The loss depressed him, but he was soon back in the gym with even more determination. Six months after the loss, he dropped Derrick Wilson four times before stopping him in round eight.
The victory set up his fight with Hovhanniyan. The two had sparred almost 80 rounds. They knew each other’s styles. The hyped Hovhanniyan was expected to win. Somebody forgot to pass that information on to Perez.
“Going into that fight I did feel like an opponent,” said Perez. “I felt like everyone thought that he was going to win. He was the bigger, more natural fighter at one hundred thirty pounds. He was the promoter's fighter, and everyone truly believed that he was the much stronger fighter.
“I made sure I prepared myself really good for that fight. I wanted to prove everyone wrong,” he added.
Perez outfought Hovyannsyan on the inside and outside. The victory was the biggest of his career.
He’ll be back in the ring against Edgar Riovalle of Mexico on July 13. Perez wants to win a world title and make his family proud.
“I’m making all my sacrifices worth it,” he said. “I want to see the smiles of my family and friends after winning that title. Doing that will prove dreams do come true.
“It will show that a nine year old kid, who began with just a dream, has made it all a reality.”
John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at: firstname.lastname@example.org