Cork’s Cubans rumble in Vegas

TWO of the three Cork-based Cuban boxers, Luis ‘El Leon’ Garcia and Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez will share the limelight with the former undisputed world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor when they feature on the undercard for his return fight against Jessie Nicklow at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California, on Friday night week.

Garcia (11-0, 9 KOs) will make his US debut against another undefeated fighter, Alexander ‘The Great’ Johnson (12-0, 5 KOs) in a bout which will be broadcast live on ShoBox: The New Generation on the Showtime network, while Perez meets Friday ‘The 13th’ Ahunanya (24-8-13, 8 KOs) in a heavyweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.

The Garcia-Johnson fight will be the first of three live bouts on the Shobox telecast which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment. In a co-featured bout, super middleweight contender, Andre Dirrell takes on Darryl Cunningham.

While Perez, the first of the Cubans to defect to Cork, has been the dominant fighter — he impressed so much when winning Sky’s heavyweight Prizefighter that nobody wants to take him on, on this side of the Atlantic at least — Garcia could prove to most successful of the three, who are all former world junior champions.

Super bantamweight, Alexi Collado, who also remains unbeaten, completes the Cuban line-up at the Team Thomas stable in Watergrasshill.

Garcia, who will be 24 tomorrow, has been crying out for top class opposition and is thrilled with the opportunity to parade his talents before the world and he is confident that he can impress the Shobox viewers.

“I’m excited to give US fight fans a chance to see what I am about and to prove that I am ready for anyone in the light heavyweight division,” he said.

“I have had a few fights fall through this year because it’s very difficult to find opponents for me in Europe,” he said. “Johnson has accepted the challenge, he’s unbeaten and ambitious so it’s a good fight for the fans.”

“My fiancee is expecting our first child just a few days after the fight so it is tough to leave her at home while I go the US for this fight but I am making the sacrifice for my family’s future and, hopefully, I will be back home in Cork in time for the birth.”

Perez faces the biggest test of his career to date in California against the durable Ahunanya, who went the distance with Chris Arreola in July. The Las Vegas-based Nigerian has also gone the distance with David Tua and the current WBA champion, Alexander Povetkin, and his scalps include the previously unbeaten Alonzo Butler, Shane Cameron and Nate Jones.

Perez, who has been sparring US prospect and Olympic medallist Deontay Wilder and veteran contender Larry Donald in preparation, has his long term focus on either of the Klitschkos.

“The Klitschko’s are easily the best heavyweights but there is no serious competition for them out there, and I want to change that,” he said.

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