Unbeaten heavyweights Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez will meet in a second-mandatory ordered by the WBC on May 24. Jennings-Perez will be supported by a middleweight bout between ex-beltholder Daniel Geale and former title challenger Matthew Macklin at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, on HBO, Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions and promoter Gary Shaw announced on Thursday.
"Mike Perez is a good fighter with an undefeated record and he is dangerous for any opponent. But I feel my fighter, Bryant Jennings has the athletic ability, the speed and movement to defeat him and is the all-around better fighter," said Shaw.
"This is the type of fight the fans deserve, two undefeated guys putting it all on the line to get a world title shot. That's what boxing is all about."
Jennings (18-0, 10 knockouts) and Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs) are in a crowded chase for the WBC belt, whose organization has mandated that Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola fight for the title vacated by the retirement of Vitali Klitschko. A unanimous decision winner over Arreola in April 2013, Stiverne faces him again on May 10.
The winner of Stiverne-Arreola has been mandated to defend against Deontay Wilder, who is coming off last month's 96-second stoppage win over Malik Scott. The winner of Jennings-Perez is to be matched against that between Wilder and the victor of the Stiverne-Arreola fight.
"The world has been desperately seeking a heavyweight to take over the division and I believe that person is me," Jennings, 29, who will be after his fifth straight win against Perez and is coming off a 10th-round knockout of Artur Szpilka in January.
"By defeating Mike Perez, I will position myself as the mandatory position in the WBC. My promoter, Gary Shaw ensures me that if I win this fight, I’ll be looking at a potential world title bout soon. My main focus is winning this fight against Perez and I’m doing everything in the gym to make that a reality. I’ll be ready to go come May 24."
Perez, 28, was last in the ring for a draw with Carlos Takam in January following November's brutal unanimous decision victory over Magomed Abdusalamov, who was left brain damaged and in rehabilitation. Perez fought in honor of Abdusalamov against Takam.
"My dream has always been to fight for the heavyweight championship. This has been my dream since I first started boxing and I have sacrificed a lot to get this opportunity," said Perez. "Jennings and I have been on a crash course for a while and now, with so much at risk, I'm sure it will bring out the best in both of us. However, as good as Jennings is, I will be victorious."
"It is rare to see two undefeated heavyweights once again risk their record in a fight like this featured on HBO. However, there was no hesitation from either side when the WBC ordered this eliminator," said Loeffler.
"Because both fighters want to fight for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world, we feel that Mike is among the best heavyweights in the world and expect him to show that on May 24th against Bryant Jennings."
A 33-year-old from New South Wales, Australia, Geale (30-2, 16 KOs) dethroned Sebastian Sylvester by split decision for the IBF's belt in 2011, and defended it four times before losing it to Darren Barker by split decision last August.
Geale's victories in defense of his title included those by split decision over then-ex-beltholder Felix Sturm in September 2012 and a unanimous decision foru months later over Anthony Mundine to avenge a split decision setback from May 2009.
Barker retired after being dethroned in December 2013 following by second-round stoppage against Sturm, who will defend his belt against Sam Solomon on May 31.
"I can't wait to make my return on HBO and fight Matthew Macklin. I'm keen to prove I am still one of the best middleweights in the world. Macklin is a very tough opponent who likes to go to war, as do I," said Geale.
"Our clash of styles could make a fight that steals the show. I will confirm my status as one of the top fighters in the division with a victory. When I win, I still want to fight Golovkin if he comes back to 160 or the winner of Sturm versus Solomon."
A 31-year-old promoted by Lou DiBella, Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) has lost three of his past five fights, including a disputed split decision to then-WBA beltholder Sturm in June 2011. Macklin also lost his ensuing bout by 11th-round stoppage to RING and WBC champion Sergio Martinez, whom he floored in the seventh round in March 2012.
In succession, Macklin then stopped Joachim Alcine in the first round in September 2012, lost by third-round knockout to WBA titleholder Gennady Golovkin last June and unanimously decisioned previously unbeaten Lamar Russ in December.
"I'm really excited about the fight with Daniel Geale. He's a good fighter, a former world champion and he throws a lot of punches like me, so I'm expecting it to be a tough, action-packed fight. After the Golovkin fight, the win over Russ got me back on track and a much-needed 10 rounds of work. Winning on May 24 against Geale will throw me back into the world title mix," said Macklin.
"So in many ways, this is almost a world title eliminator. It's a great fight between two of the best and most exciting middleweights in the world. Most people are saying that this is a 50/50 fight. I don't know Geale personally but he seems like a good guy and I respect him as a fighter for what he has achieved and accomplished in his career. That being said though, I always believed he was tailor-made for me and there only going to be one winner on May 24 and that is me.”