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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Jhoan Perez one to watch at 140?

By Dan Rafael

As if Golden Boy isn't already deep enough in quality junior welterweights -- its stable includes titleholders Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia, along with star and former titlist Amir Khan and top-10 contenders Lucas Matthysse and Humberto Soto -- the company recently signed another fighter in the weight class who could become a factor: Jhoan Perez.

Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz first saw Perez, a 28-year-old power hitter from Venezuela, fight in November 2010 when he appeared in a four-rounder on the David Haye-Audley Harrison undercard in Manchester, England.

Diaz was there because of Haye's association with Golden Boy, but he liked what he saw from Perez as he rolled to a shutout decision against a low-level opponent.

"I was impressed with his style. He was very strong and aggressive," Diaz said. "He looks for the knockout and is not shy about engaging his opponent. He's very big for 140 pounds, too. I'm not really sure how much longer he can stay at 140. But he's very hungry. Hungry to fight and to win. He's coming from the barrio and he wants to make a statement."

Four fights later, after the bout Diaz watched in England, Perez fought to a majority draw with undefeated Alberto Mosquera in Mosquera's native Panama. In his next fight, also in Panama, Perez (15-0-1, 12 KOs) scored a fourth-round knockout of Kenny Galarza, who wasn't far removed from being regarded as hot prospect. Perez followed that victory with another fourth-round knockout, this time against Fernando Castaneda in Mexico in December to win a vacant interim belt.

All along, Diaz was keeping tabs on him and keeping in touch with the fighter's manager, Rafael Moron, because Diaz wanted to sign Perez.

Diaz also did his homework on Perez. Golden Boy promotes former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Jorge Linares, who is also from Venezuela and who knows Perez. Diaz, who is very close to Linares, said he asked him about Perez and that Linares "spoke highly" of him.

Then in February, Diaz attended a WBA awards dinner in Panama along with Golden Boy fighters Khan and Maidana. It was there that Diaz met with Perez and Moron, who also were attending the dinner. Finally, that's when Diaz reeled Perez in.

Now Golden Boy has high hopes for Perez. The plan is to give him a tuneup fight in June and then put him into a bigger fight in August.

"I told [Golden Boy CEO] Richard [Schaefer] that I wanted one feeler-out fight for him," Diaz said of Perez, "but then in the second fight I'd like to match him with the winner of the Soto-Matthysse fight. That's how ready I think this kid is."

Soto and Matthysse hook up June 23 in a tremendous matchup on Showtime in the co-feature of the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto welterweight rematch at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Even if Perez against the Soto-Matthysse winner can't be made for this summer, Schaefer said Perez would likely get a name opponent to face Aug. 18 on Showtime on the undercard of a proposed main event involving welterweight Devon Alexander.