Cork-based Cuban heavyweight Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez secured a major scalp on Saturday night when overcoming the previously undefeated Russian Magomed Abdusalamov at Madison Square Garden.
Perez, who came to Ireland in 2008, has now extended his professional record to an incredible 20 wins without defeat and secured massive TV exposure on the undercard of middleweight Gennady Golovkin’s title defence against Curtis Stevens. The judges scored it 97-92, 97-92 and 95-94 to Perez, who dominated the final rounds of a bruising battle in the Big Apple.
“This was the toughest guy I faced,” Perez admitted. “He hurt me a number of times, but I was able to keep on going. The difference was my conditioning. It was my first time training with Abel Sanchez in California and it made all the difference in the world.
“I thought I won the fight. My hands are fine and I am willing to fight anybody, anytime in the heavyweight division.”
Dan Rafael who covered the fight for ESPN.com, was hugely impressed by the performance of Perez.
“By the fourth round, they were in an intense battle, swapping punches and taking as good as they were giving, although Perez had some swelling around his right eye. After another rough round in the fifth, Abdusalamov appeared exhausted when he went back to his corner and plopped onto his stool. It was that kind of wearying fight.
“Perez, however, closed the fight strong, nearly dropping Abdusalamov with a clean right hand in the 10th round and hurting him again during his follow-up attack.”
Abdusalamov hurt his hand in the early stages but refused to use that as an excuse: “In the first round, I hit his head with my left hand, and after that I couldn’t make a fist and I couldn’t operate with my left like I wanted to. But a champ is a champ, and he was a great champion tonight.”
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