Rapid Reaction: Perez draws with Takam
January, 18, 2014
By Brian Campbell | ESPN.com
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Ryan RemiorzCarlos Takam, right, wrested control of Saturday's fight in the later rounds to draw with Mike Perez.
As far as showcase fights are concerned, Saturday didn't quite go as scripted for heavyweight Mike Perez.
One fight removed from a breakthrough performance against Magomed Abdusalamov last November -- which was instantly overshadowed by the injuries suffered by his opponent -- Perez walked away with a 10-round majority draw against unheralded Carlos Takam at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Not only was Perez forced to overcome a bad cut suffered early in Round 3, which bled above his right eye throughout the bout, but all of the prefight focus was centered on how well the Cuban-born boxer would respond in light of all the lingering emotions from the Abdusalamov fight.
The exact level of how much he was affected was unclear. But Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), who defected to Ireland in 2007, clearly didn't look like himself throughout a fight fought at a dull pace early on before both fighters picked things up over the final five rounds.
One thing was certain: Takam (29-1-1, 23 KOs) was the winner of the event. Although the native of Cameroon finished with only a slight edge in punches thrown and landed, according to CompuBox, he clearly landed the harder shots.
Takam gave away the early rounds by looking to counter the more skilled Perez, a southpaw, who relied on his jab and footwork. But when Takam, who fights out of France, stepped on the gas pedal midway through the fight and established his body punching from close range, the tenor changed in his favor.
Key moment: With his corner imploring him in French to go after Perez and score a knockdown before the 10th and final round, Takam responded. He rushed Perez and landed a right hand that staggered him back into the ropes. From there, Takam kept up his pressure to likely secure what became a draw on the scorecards (96-94, 95-95, 95-95).
We've got your number: 1. As in, this was Takam's first fight not contested in either Europe or the island of Martinique. Despite victories over the faded likes of Michael Grant and Frans Botha in France, Takam was virtually unknown to American fans. Although he didn't look like a world beater Saturday, his performance was strong on such a large platform.
Last word: Perez showed plenty of class in having the name "Mago" printed on his trunks, as well as offering to donate a portion of his purse to Abdusalamov's family. Despite a relatively bland performance, Perez outboxed Takam in the early rounds and matched his opponent's aggressiveness later on when Takam took over control of the fight. He just didn't do enough to boldly declare himself as a true contender for a heavyweight title in what was, effectively, a showcase fight. Because of that, this performance was as good as a loss.