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Albuquerque’s Perez gets a long-awaited opportunity

Aaron Angel Perez, shown in March 2018 before his pro boxing debut, prepares for his biggest pro fight coming up next month. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Getting a New Mexico boxer to the top rungs of the sport, however talented the fighter, has never been easy.

Bob Foster, Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero, Austin Trout and Angelo Leo, who all would become world champions, had to pay their dues in the hinterlands before getting their big break.

Had Albuquerque promoter Lenny Fresquez not signed Holly Holm to a contract in 2004, Holm’s ride to the top of women’s boxing might have taken far longer and been far bumpier.

Albuquerque featherweight Jason Sanchez had to travel to Panama and upset a Top Rank, Inc. contract fighter to get a Top Rank contract.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has narrowed even further what has always been a narrow window of opportunity.

Aaron Perez knows this all too well.

Perez, an Albuquerque trainer, promoter and the father of two talented young boxers, has been making the rounds – trying to get his son Aaron Angel Perez’s pro career re-started and younger son Abraham’s off the ground.

“These big (promotional) companies, I’m always reaching out to them, trying to put my boys in the mix,” he said.

Finally, success – but at a high risk. Aaron Angel Perez (10-0, six knockouts) is scheduled to face Raymond Ford (8-0, four KOs) in an eight-round junior lightweight bout in Dallas on March 13.

The card is being promoted by Englishman Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Ford, a 2018 Golden Gloves national champion, is a Matchroom contract fighter.

Perez knows Matchroom matchmaker Eric Bottjer wouldn’t be putting Aaron Angel in with Ford if he wasn’t confident Ford would win.

But, just as Sanchez went to Panama as “the opponent” and defeated Top Rank fighter Jean Carlos Rivera in October 2018, the elder Perez believes his son can surprise, impress and defy the odds.

“I feel confident in my son and his abilities,” he said.

Nine of Aaron Angel Perez’s 10 victories have come on cards promoted either by Albuquerque’s Legacy Promotions – a Perez family undertaking – or by Hobbs’ Isidro Castillo, who also functions as a matchmaker for Legacy. Sanchez’s career followed the same pattern until his big break finally came.

But with Legacy on hold because of the pandemic, Aaron Angel hasn’t fought since November 2019. Regardless, his father said, he’ll be ready on March 13. Taking a hiatus from his job at the family auto-repair business, he’s training full time.

“He’s doing two-a-days, resting his body, keeping focused,” the elder Perez said. “I don’t want him to worry about anything at work. It’s the big stage, you know?”

Meanwhile, Abraham Perez opted to turn pro after – despite having won the U.S. Olympic Trials at 114 pounds – he was not selected for the U.S. team. He was to have made his pro debut this month in Lubbock, Texas, but the card fell through.

Perez is running up his phone bill on Abraham’s behalf, as well, but thus far has had no luck.

“I’ve been shopping Abraham around, too, with Top Rank and all those big names, and at the moment they’re not interested,” he said. “Maybe it’s his weight.

“I don’t know (what else) it is, because he’s got all the qualities.”

HOLM ON THE CALL: Albuquerque’s Holm will provide analysis on the FITE TV streaming of the March 5 world title-unification boxing match between Claressa Shields (10-0, two knockouts) of Flint, Michigan, and Canada’s Marie Eve Dicaire (17-0, no KOs), it was announced Tuesday.

Holm, a former UFC bantamweight champion, won multiple boxing titles, compiling a record in the ring of 33-2-3, before turning full time to MMA.

Shields, a two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist, has trained with Holm at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA recently while preparing for an eventual MMA career.

It has been reported that Holm will serve as the in-house scorer for the Shields-Dicaire fight.

FITE TV’s streaming of the card, to be staged in Shields’ hometown of Flint, is available at a cost of $29.99.

Holm, 14-5 in the cage, is scheduled to face California Julianna Peña (10-4) on a May 8 UFC card.

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