Height / Reach: 5-7 (170cm) / 68 (173cm)
Hometown: Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (from Cartagena, Colombia)
Nickname: El Colombiano
Turned pro: 2005
Record: 21-1 (14 knockouts)
Trainer: Danny Zamora
Fight-by-fight: Click here
The Ring rating: No. 6 bantamweight
Titles: IBF bantamweight (2009-10; lost it to Joseph Agbeko)
Biggest victories: Silence Mabuza, May 29, 2009, TKO 12 (title eliminator); Joseph Agbeko, Oct. 31, 2009, UD 12 (won IBF title).
Losses: Agbeko, Dec. 11, 2010, UD 12 (Showtime tournament).
Draw: Abner Mares, May 22, 2010, MD 12 (Showtime tournament)
Biography: Yonnhy Perez is far from the most-skilled or naturally talented fighter in the bantamweight division, but few fighters work as hard in the gym as the late-bloomer from Colombia, and nobody is going to outwork or out-will him in a 12-round prize fight.
Just ask Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares, the finalists of Showtime’s four-man bantamweight tournament, in which Perez is taking part.
Agbeko, a superior athlete, possesses quicker hands and more power than Perez, but the Colombian was able to draw the fierce Ghanaian into his kind of fight — a toe-to-toe slugfest — during their first encounter and upset the defending titleholder via unanimous decision.
Mares, a 2004 Olympian who beat Perez in two out of three amateur meetings, is a more versatile boxer with better technique, and yet, when the friendly rivals met as pros last September the Colombian pressure fighter would not be denied. Perez out-hustled Mares during the middle rounds of the bout and stole enough of the late rounds with sheer aggression to hold the younger, more talented fighter to a majority draw.
The Agbeko and Mares fights were not the first time Perez beat the odds. The 32-year-old veteran’s life is a study in overcoming adversity.
He fought his way out of the dirt-poor slums of Cartagena to national and international prominence during his extensive amateur career.
He earned a world ranking in just three years, despite turning pro at the advanced age of 26 and signing with a small promotional company (Thompson Boxing) that developed him on club shows in Southern California.
He traveled to South Africa to battle Silence Mabuza in an IBF-title-elimination bout on the formidable contender’s home turf and scored a come-from-behind 12th-round knockout, which earned his shot at Agbeko.
He fought in three consecutive fight-of-the-year candidates (the bouts with Mabuza, Agbeko and Mares).
Perez’s amazing accomplishments did not happen by accident or without sacrifice. He spends 10 months out of the year training with coach Danny Zamora in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., leaving behind his wife and two children in Colombia.
The emotional toll of not being with his family and the wear and tear from his many hard fights may have played a part in his rematch loss to Agbeko in a bantamweight tournament semifinal match in December. The one-sided unanimous decision has swayed some boxing experts to favor Vic Darchinyan in their tournament consolation match on the Agbeko-Mares undercard on April 23, but as Perez’s life story proves, the Colombian can never be counted out.