Golden Boy on ESPN back at Casino Del Sol this Saturday: A look at Ali vs Perez.

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ESPN and Golden Boy Promotions announced in January a 42 card partnership over the course of 2017 (18 cards) and 2018 (24 cards). In doing so, Golden Boy CEO and Boxing Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya essentially secured two years of international exposure for his stable of prospects on ESPN’s networks in Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia and parts of Asia. Saturday, Golden Boy on ESPN will be making its second appearance in the Old Pueblo in 3 months as a part of that series.

The main event about to get under way at Casino Del Sol in May of 2017

“When we launched Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN, I promised that we would showcase competitive fights every time out,” De La Hoya said. “We have delivered on each and every card, and the July 29 main event between two hungry contenders in Ali and Perez will give fans exactly what they have come to expect from this series.”

Ali and Perez will be fighting in a 10 round main event bout for the vacant WBA-NABA USA welterweight title. Casual boxing fans will see a long acronym attached to a weight class and the word “title” and they tend to dismiss the bout all together. It doesn’t have the same ring to it or carry the same weight to it as being an outright world title bout would. Of course not. What fighting for these world regional belts, such as the NABA, NABO or NABF for example, does put the fighters who hold these titles directly in line to fight the champions of the world in their weight class. They become the mandatory challengers for the reigning world champs.

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On paper, this is actually an excellent main event on the surface. Both fighters have been close to hoisting world title belts at some point in their careers, so neither will be intimidated. Both come into this one seeing it as a pivotal bout in their careers. This bout will most likely put the winner on deck to fight at the MGM in Las Vegas or be a pay-per-view main event challenger on the world stage.

Let’s take a deeper look at the main event fighters and break down the road they took to get to Saturday’s internationally televised card at Casino Del Sol. Is this main event all it’s cracked up to be?

Photo via ESPN

Sadam “World Kid” Ali (24-1, 14 KOs)

“World Kid” Ali has fought world class opposition on the biggest stage. As a US Olympian in Beijing and as a professional. In order to get himself back in those bright lights, however, he has to win in Tucson on Saturday. There’s no way around it.

Ali fought Jesse Vargas (27-2, 10KOs) in March of 2016 in what turned out to be a gem of a fight for what had been a vacant WBO welter weight world title. The very title that Floyd Mayweather left up for grabs when he “retired.” Manny Pacquiao beat Vargas for that belt in November and Pacquiao lost it in a controversial decision to Jeff Horn earlier this month.

Fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, Ali will enter the ring as an orthodox fighter (although I have seen him switch to southpaw a few times, for rounds at a time while watching film on him in preparation for this write-up) that will bring a balance of speed and power. More than half of his victories have come by way of knockout, so Ali does have enough behind his punches to put an opponents lights out. When Ali goes the distance, he has almost always won by unanimous decision (one victory was split decision). Which will let you know that he is active and accurate enough to outscore opponents as well.

Sadam Ali (left) with Oscar De La hoya. Photo: goldenboypromotions.com

The only blemish on his record, as mentioned earlier, came at the hands of Jesse Vargas in a ninth round stoppage. A title bout in which he was dropped twice before referee Kenny Chevalier called an end to it.

Johan “El Terrible” Perez (22-3-2, 15 KOs)

Perez will be traveling from Caracas, Venezuela to put on a show for boxing fans at Casino Del Sol. Perez held the WBA-NABA welterweight title before losing it to (TKO) Dmitry Mikhaylenko on HBO in 2015. Since then, Perez has only fought three times, all in his native Venezuela to opponents with a combined record of 26-26. His last opponent has a record of 1-2.

John Perez (left) Photo via goldenboypromotions.com

When watching his film, you can see he does posses adequate punching power and is very active. Though his stamina has been an issue. It didn’t look to be his conditioning but more the way he opens up his midsection and exposes it when trying to throw his slow, wind-up, power punches. Mikhaylenko took full advantage of Perez when Perez would allow his guard to disappear. He leaves himself wide open to counter punches often. Once the fatigue sets in for Perez, his footwork suffers. In the fights I’ve reviewed, he consistently squares up and stands with his feet side by side, facing his opponent.

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