Perez says he won the fight easily but loses WBC title eliminator to Jennings

Rich Mancuso

Mike Perez threw more punches and jabs but the judges saw it otherwise at Madison Square Garden Saturday night in his WBC heavyweight title eliminator against Bryant Jennings. The 28-year old Perez, a one-time successful amateur who defected from Cuba, had his second pro fight at the Garden since turning professional in 2008 and came up short losing a 12-round split decision.

The 20-year old Jennings of Philadelphia will get a shot at the title that was vacated by Vitali Klitschko earlier this year. He becomes the mandatory challenger for the winner between world titleholder Bermane Stiverne and current mandatory challenger Deontay Wilder.

Jennings (19-0-0) who had a height advantage may have won the fight in the final round. Two judges at ringside had it 114-113 and 115-112 for Jennings, and the other 114-113 for Perez, though Perez may have lost the fight in the final round. He was deducted a point after hitting Jennings when referee Harvey Dock asked for a break.

Regardless of the outcome, a good heavyweight fight returned to the Garden where at one time the division hosted many epic battles.  Perez claimed he won the fight and there is every reason to believe that the two fighters could meet again, perhaps if and when Jennings has a part of the heavyweight championship.

"I won the fight. I won the fight easily," Perez said who lost his first fight after winning 20 with 12 KO’s. "I did what I wanted to do. The referee stole the fight from me.” 

That was the sentiment of the Perez camp. They claimed Dock had no business taking a point away in the final round which obviously decided the outcome.  Up until that point, it seemed Perez had control of the fight and was dictating his punches.  The southpaw was throwing lefts, left and right combinations and Jennings had issues with fighting Perez on the outside.

Perez’ promoter, Tom Loefflec of K2 Promotions was outraged as to why Dock deducted a point in the last round, more so because it did not appear that Perez was negligent. And with the magnitude of this fight it made the point deduction a significant issue.

"It's kind of unheard of to take a point away in the 12th round and have that decide the fight,” he said.

Jennings  and Perez  were  scheduled to fight May 24 in Corpus Christi, Texas, but Perez suffered a left should injury in a sparring session and the bout was called off with two weeks to go.

“It doesn't matter as long as I get the win," Jennings said. "He wouldn't stand in there and trade with me. I wanted him to stand in there and fight. I was expecting the inside pressure from Mike Perez and it didn't happen. It was a very technical fight."

And the numbers showed that Perez three more punches, 571 to the 531 of Jennings. Though Perez threw more jabs, 226-141, Jennings connected with one more 13-12… 

In the Garden main event and in front of a dominant crowd of supporters, Gennady Golovkin easily defended his WBA/IBO middleweight titles with a third round stoppage over Daniel Geale.

The TKO came at 2:47 of the third round following right that knocked down Geale. In the second round, Golovkin sent Geale to the canvas with a right hook to the body. He continued to use the same approach in the next round.

“The knockout, it was important,” said Golovkin, 30-0-27 KO’s ,who handed the two-time champion Geale his third defeat The native of Karaganda Kazakhstan also scored his 17th straight via knockout. He said the knockout was his style and he went for it as planned.

Geale, 30-3-0, 16 KO’s, from Mt. Annon Austraila could not put up with the right and was never in the fight. Now the question is, who will “GGG” fight next as he looks to unify the title?

“Elite opponents,” he said. “I want a unification fight. Who is the best, Miguel Cotto? I’m ready Miguel. I respect him, Cotto,” referring to the four-division middleweight champion who defeated Sergio Martinez for the WBC belt at the Garden back in June. Golovkin, defended his title for the 11th time and opened a cut over Geal’s right eye in the second round.

 He added, "Tonight was a big step fighting in the arena and I'm happy to perform for the fans. I was patient in the first round and part of the second round, but once I figured him out I was able to attack aggressively. I knew it was a matter of time. I am very happy now. I want unification fights. I want Cotto. I want prove to the world that without a doubt that I am the best middleweight in the world. That is very important to me."

And, it may be a matter of time as the immediate push was made for a Cotto-Golovkin unification bout with the venue, Madison Square Garden…

On the undercard: Dusty Hernandez Harrison of Washington DC kept his undefeated record in place at 23-0 with a 8-round unanimous decision win over Wilfredo Acuna, 15-15-0 for the WBC Youth Welterweight title.

Top Rank junior welterweight prospect Julian Rodriguez remained undefeated in his fourth pro fight with easy 0:43 first round stoppage over Yankton Southern, 4-6-0 of Springfield Missouri. A quick left hook to the body sent Southern to the canvas for a quick 10-count and he could not continue.

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