Lightweight standout Darley Perez barely held onto his unbeaten record and top-10 sanctioning organization rankings with a razor-thin split-decision victory over Bahodir Mamadjonov in the main event of a Friday Night Fights in Cabazon, Calif.
Perez (26-0, 19 knockouts) scored an eighth-round knockdown to clinch a narrow points verdict by scores of 96-93, 95-94, 94-95. The 28-year-old boxer-puncher, who represented Colombia in the 2008 Olympics, took command of the fight down the stretch but he had trouble with Mamadjonov’s footwork and awkward southpaw style in the first half of the bout.
In fact, the 25-year-old prospect from Uzbekistan did more than trouble Perez, he rocked the Colombian with a hook in the second round and countered the more seasoned fighter after making him miss in rounds three, four and five.
However, just when it seemed Mamadjonov (11-1, 7 KOs) was on his way to a minor upset, Perez began to figure out the unorthodox style of his opponent. Perez, who is rated No. 5 by the WBA and IBF and No. 9 by the WBC, finally found range at the end of the sixth round.
By the middle of the seventh round he was able to back Mamadjonov up with straight rights to the body. In the eighth round, Perez lured Mamadjonov forward and countered him with a right uppercut, producing the knockdown that prevented the bout from being scored a split-draw.
The Uzbeki underdog went back on the attack in rounds nine and 10 but Perez was able to anticipate his wild lunges and counter him with short power shots.
In the co-featured bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, junior featherweight prospect Chris Avalos rebounded from a split-decision loss to Jhonatan Romero last December with a clear-cut unanimous decision victory over unbeaten Yenifel Vicente.
Avalos (20-2, 15 KOs) scored a fifth-round knockdown on his way beating Vicente by unanimous scores of 97-92. The 22-year-old Southern Californian out-jabbed the unbeaten but raw Miami resident from a distance and outworked him when in close, but that doesn’t mean Vicente (23-1-2, 15 KOs) did not have his moments.
The 26-year-old Dominican Republic native landed jarring overhand rights at the end of the fourth round and started the fifth with aggression and confidence, stunning Avalos with an uppercut before pounding the younger man’s body. However, Vicente left himself open during his spirited attack and Avalos floored him with a powerful hook.
Vicente got up, gamely survived the round and remained game throughout the entertaining bout, but Avalos was able to land more of his power punches during their exchanges.