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Boxing: Perez is a heavy, yet confident, underdog for Saturday fight

Colorado’s Shon Mondragon, right, reacts after getting hit by New Mexico’s Aaron Perez in their Golden Glove championship fight, won by Perez, in April 2016. Perez perhaps can use this victory from five years ago in preparation to face another lefty on Saturday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal.)

Aaron Angel Perez knows what to do against flashy, slick-boxing southpaws.

The flashy, slick-boxing southpaw he’ll face on Saturday, though, presents a challenge the young Albuquerque boxer has never faced before.

He believes he’s up to that challenge.

“I just believe that we have the skills,” Perez (10-0, six knockouts) said in a phone interview from Dallas, where he’s scheduled to face touted prospect Raymond Ford in an eight-round featherweight bout. “What we’ve learned a lot through our career is that it’s more of a mental aspect to defeat somebody.

“That’s gonna be our game plan. We’re gonna go in and destroy this guy mentally and then get to him physically.”

That’s an outcome neither the oddsmakers, the promoters nor the ultra-confident Ford (8-0, four KOs) is predicting. Ford, a 2018 national Golden Gloves champion and a 2019 USA Boxing national runner-up, is a prohibitive betting favorite.

“I’m the best prospect (in the world) outright right now,” Ford said during a Thursday news conference.

The two young boxers have at least one opponent in common, not in the pros but from the amateurs: Denver’s Shon Mondragon – like Ford a slick-boxing southpaw.

Ford defeated Mondragon by unanimous decision at the 2017 USA Boxing nationals. Perez lost to Mondragon twice in 2015.

But at the 2016 Golden Gloves regionals in Albuquerque, Perez faced Mondragon once again. This time, refusing to be outboxed, he pressured and bullied the Colorado boxer for three rounds and earned a victory by split decision.

Perez isn’t saying he’ll use those tactics against Ford, nor is he saying he won’t. He simply said he intends to find a way.

“That’s what we have faith in, is that our style is multidimensional,” he said. “If we need to box, then we can box. If we need to fight, put the pressure on and attack more, we can do that.

“Either way we decide to go, there are ways of making somebody make a mistake and being able to make them pay for it.”

Saturday’s match was made on Perez’s end by his father and trainer, Aaron.

The younger Perez compiled his 10-0 record almost exclusively on cards promoted in Albuquerque by his family’s Legacy Promotions. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Legacy – dependent almost solely on gate receipts – had to shut down.

With his son idle since November 2019, the elder Perez set about not just to get Aaron Angel a fight, but to get him one that, should he win, might kick-start his career into a higher gear.

Saturday’s card is promoted by Englishman Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, a major international promotional firm. Ford is a Matchroom contract fighter. Should Aaron Angel score a stunning upset on a card streamed (DAZN) across Europe as well as the U.S., the boxing establishment undoubtedly would take notice.

“People around the country and around the world are gonna be watching,” Perez said. “We’re excited to display our abilities and what we have on (the big stage).”

That big stage, he said, hasn’t fazed him in the buildup to Saturday’s fight.

“I’m not worried at all,” he said. “We start getting antsy toward the end, because we just want the fight to happen already.

“But we’re confident in our abilities, in what we have, and our game plan. We know we’re gonna go in there and execute.”

Perez weighed in on Friday at 127.2 pounds, Ford at 126.8.

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