SALINAS, Calif. — The only knock on Eloy Perez going into his Solo Boxeo Tecate main event against Daniel Jimenez on Friday was his lack of power.
Hardcore fans and boxing writers recognized the 24 year old’s skill and technique, however, scoring only five knockouts in 23 pro bouts and winning his last three bouts by uneventful decision made it hard for many of them to get excited about the junior lightweight prospect.
Perhaps Perez’s electrifying one-punch knockout of Jimenez in the second round of their scheduled 10-round bout will help change the perception that he’s a “boring fighter” and win some fans outside of his adopted hometown.
Perez (22-0-2, 6 knockouts) dropped Jimenez with a counter right hand midway through the opening round before flooring the capable Puerto Rico-based fighter with a flush hook 20 seconds before the bell.
Jimenez (20-4-1, 12 KOs) got up from both knockdowns with an incredulous smile on his face, as if he were saying to himself “There’s no way that I’m hurt, this guy can’t punch.”
However, Perez proved otherwise by connecting with a powerful lead left hook 50 seconds into the second round. The punch caused Jimenez’s body to go limp and collapse into the ropes where the referee waved the fight 56 seconds into the round.
The TKO victory was arguably the best of Perez’s six-year career. Jimenez had been inactive, having fought only once in the past two years, but he was a skilled, athletic fringe contender who had scored impressive victories in previous years, including an eight-round decision over then-undefeated Vicente Escobedo in 2006.
The 30-year-old Dominican had only been stopped once before Friday’s main event at the Salinas Sports Complex, and that was a 12th-round TKO to former Ramon Martinez, a former WBO titleholder known for his punching power.
Even Perez’s corner was surprised by the early knockout.
“I did not think Eloy would blast him like that,” said co-trainer Dean Familton, “but I expected this guy to take the fight to our fighter, which I knew would play into Eloy’s hands.
“I think Jimenez underestimated Eloy’s power and thought that he could do whatever he wanted in there.”
Perez says his key to victory was not to what he wanted to do — which was brawl.
“I kept my cool and focused on what we had worked on in training even though I wanted to jump on him in the first round,” Perez said after the fight. “My trainers, Max (Garcia) and Dean, told me to be patient and the knockout would come. The plan was to feint and counter punch, not to force anything.”
If Perez could force anything, he would make a top-rated junior lightweight fight him. Earlier this year he signed to fight fellow unbeaten prospect Luis Cruz in an elimination bout for the WBO title held by Ricky Burns, of Scotland.
However, Cruz declined the opportunity. Perez’s manager Kathy Garcia has pushed for a match against Golden Boy Promotions stable mate Adrien Broner, but the undefeated Ohioan has already secured a title bout with Burns in November.
Perez, who won his third bout of the year on Friday, says he’ll stay busy until he’s able to lure a notable opponent into the ring.
“I’ll take ’em all on, Burns, Broner, Martinez, Cruz, whoever is there for me at junior lightweight,” Perez said. “I’m here to stay.”
In the co-featured bout of the Telefutura broadcast, James Parison scored an entertaining split decision over Paul Mendez in an six-round super middleweight bout.
Parison (15-1, 4 KOs), a 29-year-old super middleweight from San Diego, won by scores of 59-55, 58-56, 56-58, by being the busier fighter throughout the closely contested bout.
Mendez (6-2, 2 KOs), a 23-year-old junior middleweight from Delano, Calif., scored well with had one-two combinations in the second and third rounds, but abandoned his jab over the second half of the bout and fought in close with Parison, which favored his naturally bigger opponent.
On the undercard, Salinas native Rudy Puga Jr. won his pro debut with a fourth-round stoppage of Raul Talamontes (0-5), of Stockton, Calif., in a scheduled four-round super middleweight bout.
Featherweight prospect Bruno Escalante (3-0, 2 KOs), of San Carlos, Calif., by way of the Philippines, stopped Frank Gutierrez (2-11-2, 1 KO), of highland, Calif., in the second round of their scheduled four rounder.
Anthony Johnson (5-0, 1 KO), of San Jose, Calif., outpointed Joe Gumina (3-0, 2 KOs), San Bruno, Calif., in a four-round cruiserweight slugfest.
Welterweight prospect Jonathan Chicas (3-0, 2 KOs), of San Francisco, stopped Davis Kamara (4-3), of Audenshaw, England, in the third round of their scheduled four-round swing bout.