Monday, January 20, 2014

Mike Perez VS Carlos Takam: Takam Enters An Opponent, Finishes A Contender?

Mike Perez, having become one of the heavyweight division's hottest prospects after one of its best fights late last year (and most tragic outcomes) with Magomed Abdusalamov had his first fight in the aftermath Saturday night. He reportedly said he'd donate part of his purse to the Abdusalamov family. What happened? He was set up with a man sold as "an opponent" with a nice record on paper without much substance to it. That man entered the ring and started the match seemingly as just that. A safe, lackluster opponent for what might be a mentally damaged Mike Perez is every bit what Takam seemed to me in the first part of the fight.

The first half played out with Perez controlling and stalking slowly from the outside, with wide right hooks and straight lefts. The second half of this ten-rounder is Takam waging an inside fighting war the likes of which the heavyweight division virtually never sees anymore in the upper levels and getting the better of it with strength, volume and surprisingly good skill, for what he was advertised to be. This fight ended in a draw and while I actually narrowly scored it for Takam, there was nothing controversial here, beyond your typical outcry for the underdog in a close fight from underdog blind fans.

What does this mean for the division? 

For Takam: While Perez hopefuls have calmed down, wondering if Perez is the same fighter and probably forgotten that he blows hot and cold anyway, Takam is now a player in the division, having waged this war on the glory boxing network. While not much taller than Perez, he's got the weight of a true super heavyweight and this man can fight. If not a rematch? Takam and Dereck Chisora could enter into the best inside fighting heavyweight match of 2014! Takam made a fan out of me. I would not have predicted it after the first five rounds but he did. Congratulations to him for an HBO coming out party. Getting an opportunity to shine can be a matter of luck, but actually shining is most often a matter of will. Takam willfully forced himself into the real name heavyweight ranks against the odds.

For Perez: With all the letting go of Perez's chances in the division, I'm not at all convinced that he's got anything wrong with him and think he actually put on a good fight. For the time being, I am going to rate Takam higher more than Perez lower. But I am in the minority. Many are unwilling to consider him a standout contender after Saturday night. The favourite doesn't always perform like the favourite, but it doesn't mean they aren't performing. Perez and Takam both showed an awful lot of grit in the second half of the fight. For ten-rounders, that's two very grueling matches in a row for Perez, and in only a few months' time. I say we should give the man a break and let him regroup. That said, what this means for Perez is that he goes into the category of likely Klitschko domination opponents until further notice with the fan majority. Again, I am not personally convinced that there's been a great change in him stemming from the Abdusalamov fight, and that fight alone, but I am convinced that there are contenders a plenty who have unexpectedly difficult nights after looking spectacular and many of them have gone on to become champions, some of which get there immediately afterward. Perez could be in that group.

Broadcast Quotes:

During the 6th round:

Jim Lampley: I don't see any sign whatsoever that Perez is in some way affected by the mental hangover from the Abdusalamov thing. He's got a whole different problem in front of him and that's Carlos Takam.
Roy Jones Junior: None! A Whole different problem and a whole different type of a problem because he's fighting the same fight that they want Mike Perez to fight.

Other Broadcast Notes:

*Harold Lederman's card had Takam winning it, 96-94, broken down as:
Perez Rounds: 1,2,4 &5
Takam Rounds: 3 & 6-10

*Max Kellerman saw it as many fans and two of the three judges, five rounds to five. 

*Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson was in attendance.

*HBO gives a link to donate to Magomed Abdusalamov and his family in their very difficult struggle, in the aftermath of his medical trauma, and all the expenses and uncertainty that have followed. That link is:

*Mike Perez's ring walk/entrance music is I'm Shipping Up To Boston, by Dropkick Murphys

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing 

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