Golden Boy on ESPN Main Event/Televised Action aired live from Casino Del Sol
10 Rounds for the vacant WBA International Welterweight Title
Sadam Ali (24-1, 14 KO’s) vs Johan Perez (23-3-4, 15 KOs) – Referee: Tony Zaino
Winner by unanimous decision: Ali
Judges scored the fight: 98-91, 97-92, 97-92
Ali improves to 25-1.
When the closing bell was rung, the tension was thick in Casino Del Sol’s Event Center. Fight fans in attendance had enjoyed a 10 round brawl that could really have been called in favor of either fighter. For those of you at home watching on ESPN, perhaps the choice was clear. For those of us sitting ring-side, it wasn’t as clear and we started taking different factors into account.
A clear slip by Perez in the early rounds to everyone watching in the venue and at home was scored as a knock down in Ali’s favor and Perez was counted to eight. Referee Tony Zaino seemed to be the only person in the entire venue that didn’t notice it was a slip. Still, we had to count that in Ali’s favor. What fight fans saw was Perez being the aggressor. Ali was reactive and was clearly taken out of his rhythm. Fans love fighters who initiate the action.
ESPN’s Punch Stats had Ali landing 25% of his punches compared to Perez’s 16%. Fans heard the more thunderous blows being landed by Perez but they were a lot fewer and farther between than the scoring blows Ali landed.
Teddy Atlas scored the fight 97-92 for Ali. The judges agreed. What raised eye brows for everyone in press row was the enormous margins they voted to unanimously award the victory to Ali. Perez showed up in a big way to bring the fight to Ali. After, he told us he felt disrespected by the judges.
“I felt I clearly won the fight,” was the only statement Perez gave those of us who were trying to get his take.
When speaking to ESPNs Teddy Atlas after the bout, Ali seemed to acknowledge that the decision went his way simply because Perez lacked the name value to sell a welterweight title fight.
When we had the chance to talk to Ali in press row shortly after that, TheRing.com’s Norm Frauenheim asked Ali how he felt he truthfully did. The Yemenese fighter from New York answered quite frankly, “Like I told Teddy (Atlas), I give myself a ‘6’ if I’m being honest. I didn’t perform as good as I wanted to. I should have looked sharper in there. I felt a little off. I was getting hit with some shots I shouldn’t have got hit with. So, I don’t grade my performance too well, but the only way a fighter will get better is if he sees his mistakes and I see mine.”
AllSportsTucson.com followed up Fraunheim’s question by asking if there was anything Perez did to cause Ali to not quite find a rhythm or really establish anything he was looking to accomplish.
“He was pretty tall, he was very awkward. Weird reach. His punches came (from) weird angles. He’s tough and he’s good but it was more about what I was doing wrong in my opinion. I just felt a little off. No excuses. Today was just one day that I didn’t look so great.”
OPINION: In my analysis leading up to this fight, I compared these two fighters and it was clear that Ali had the more impressive looking resume. In his previous three fights, Ali looked to be the fighter with the greater hand speed, discipline, footwork and overall training. This was the fight Ali needed to use to establish himself as true contender for the WBA welter title. Although he’s managed to place himself in line as a mandatory challenger to face either Keith Thurman or Lamont Peterson, in my mind, he came up short. While we were waiting for the decision to be announced, Frauenheim asked me if I believed Ali should still be considered a prospect. To which regrettably I say, yes. A prospect. Not yet a contender. A contender would have outclassed Perez and left no doubt in the minds of all who watched. I agree with Ali’s self evaluation, it was mostly his own mistakes that allowed Perez to linger. While Ali did a great job of avoiding haymakers and making Perez miss and only land superficial blows, Ali failed to make Perez pay for missing so much. The glaring things I saw in Perez’s last five fights that I felt would be exploited by Ali, were still very much the same bad habits he brought to the ring in Tucson. Perez displayed poor footwork, dropped his guard any time he threw a jab, power punches were slow and would require a huge wind up that opened up his entire body and exposed him to body shots. Against Perez, Ali was a counter puncher, without doing much punching. Ali simply didn’t take advantage of any of it. A bona-fide title contender would have put the current title holders on notice. Instead, I have a feeling that Thurman and Peterson are finding it easier to relax after seeing that display from their next mandatory challenger.
My notes on the rest of the night’s action from Casino Del Sol:
Schedule for 10 rounds of action in the welterweight division
Eddie Gomez (20-2, 11 KOs) vs Alejandro Barrera (28-3, 17 KOs) – Referee: Rocky Burke
Winner by split decision: Barrera Judges scored the fight: 96-93, 96-93,95-94
Very entertaining fight. By far, the crowd in attendence was into this fight more than any other of the night leading up to the main event. Gomez suffers an upset loss. Drops to 20-3. Barrera improves to 29-3.
Scheduled 4 rounds in the Super lightweight division
Alfredo Escarcega (2-0) vs Rodolfo Gamez (1-3) – Referee: Tony Zaino
Winner by majority decison: Alfedo Escarcega Judges scored the fight: 38-38, 49-36, 39-37
Escarcega, fighting out of Phoenix, improves to 3-0.
Scheduled for 8 rounds in the middleweight division
Daquan Arnett (15-1, 9 KOs) vs Jorge Silva (21-13-2, 17 KOs) – Referee: Rocky Burke
Winner by in unanimous decion: Daquan Arnett Judges scores: 80-71, 80-71, 80-71
Complete dissappointment of a fight. Silva’s antics and clown like behavior did nothing to frustrate Arnett and instead, a crowd that had been for Silva in the first round, cheered his loss when the decision was announced.
Scheduled for 8 rounds in the super welterweight division
Patrick Teixeira (26-1, 22 KOs) vs Andrew Hernandez (19-5-1, 9 KOs) – Referee: Tony Zaino
Winner by unanimous decision: Teixeira Judges scores: 80-72, 80-72, 79-73
Those of us in press row had actually scored this fight a lot closer than the conclusion the judges came to. Hernandez was able to land and bloody Teixeira’s face and land quality blows. In the end, the judges saw enough from the Brazilian.