Before WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens swap blows this Saturday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, undefeated heavyweights Mike “The Rebel” Perez (19-0, 12 KOs) and Magomed “Mago” Abdusalamov (18-0, 18 KOs) will be attempting to preserve their unblemished records.
Perez, 28, was born in Ciega de Avila, Cuba and fights out of Cork, Ireland. Five months ago he easily defeated Travis Walker in Mannheim, Germany. Boxing out of a southpaw stance, Perez is an aggressive fighter who throws combinations in bunches.
“Fighting at Madison Square Garden is a dream come true for me,” said Perez who defected to Ireland in 2007. "Mago" is a very strong heavyweight. I will win this fight and put on a very strong performance on HBO.”
Born in Makhachkala, Russia, Abdusalamov, 32, was last seen dispatching Sebastian Ceballos in 61 seconds. The victory was his 18th in a row by knockout. The heavy-handed southpaw can punch, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. In 2012, 42-year-old former heavyweight contender Jameel McCline floored Abdusalamov with a lead right hand. The Russian got up and stopped McCline in the next round.
Abdusalamov is currently ranked number four by the World Boxing Council.
“I want to thank my team for setting up this opportunity,” said Abdusalamov. “I'm looking forward to fighting a decorated fighter like Mike Perez in Madison Square Garden."
Based on their styles, this match-up looks be a potential barnburner. Abdusalamov is relentless plodder who packs power in both hands. Perez is the better boxer, but likes to let his shots go. Abdusalamov is blessed with a sturdy chin and a desire to give the fans their money’s worth. Perez has been known to talk to his opponents while he punishes them.
“Heavyweight fights are always an attractive element to a major card and we’re delighted to spotlight this showdown between two undefeated top contenders,” said Peter Nelson, director of programming, HBO Sports.
The winner could be line for a shot at Deontay Wilder.
The bout can be seen live on HBO Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
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