Brothers Abraham and Aaron Angel Perez last fought on the same boxing card five years ago as amateurs in Kansas City, Missouri.
Saturday, dozens of fights and countless hours in the gym later, they’ll do so again – this time for a paycheck.
The two Albuquerque fighters headline a show at the Kiva Auditorium at the Convention Center, the first pro boxing card staged in Albuquerque since March 2020.
Older brother Angel (10-0-1, six knockouts) will face Diego Elizondo (3-2-3, no KOs) of Carson City, Nevada, in a 10-round welterweight main event. Abraham will make his pro debut against Mississippian Matthew Melton, who’s also fighting as a pro for the first time, in a four-round bout.
Aaron Perez, the two boxers’ father. trainer and co-promoter of Saturday’s card with his brother Jordan, has helped stage 11 pro cards under the Legacy Promotions banner since entering the business in 2015. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing the cancellation, multiple times, of a card planned for 2020.
He and his sons are eager, and he’s counting on Albuquerque fight fans’ eagernesss as well.
“I think people are just excited to get out and see boxing again,” he said.
The brothers are equally excited – not simply to be fighting, but to be fighting in their hometown and on the same card for the first time as pros.
“We fought on a lot of amateur cards together, winning tournaments and pretty much representing each other out there,” Angel Perez said. “We fought for us and our families and things like that. So, to share a bigger stage with (his brother) is awesome.”
Angel Perez last fought in March, battling to an eight-round draw with prized Matchroom Boxing prospect Raymond Ford in Dallas.
“They (Matchroom) wanted a right-away rematch,” Aaron Perez. “I told them, ‘Give me a couple of fights on you guys’ programs to get (Angel’s) rust out completely.”
That didn’t work out, so Angel instead will face Elizondo, whose modest record is deceiving. The Nevada fighter’s eight opponents had a combined record of 19-3 when they stepped into the ring against him.
“I don’t take anybody lightly,” Angel Perez said. “I’m expecting a worst-case scenario, 10 full rounds. That’s what we’ve trained for.”
The lightweight limit of 135 pounds is the heaviest weight at which Angel Perez has fought.
Making an appropriate match for Abraham, Aaron Perez said, was a challenge.
As an amateur, Abraham Perez won a Golden Gloves national title, then won the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials at 114 pounds (but was passed over by USA Boxing in selecting its Olympic candidates).
“(Managers and trainers) look him up and see that he won the Olympic Trials,” Aaron Perez said. “You just punch in his name and you see what he’s accomplished. … I’ve had a lot of turn-downs.”
Enter Melton, a mystery man who has no combat-sports footprint whatsoever – no pro boxing, no amateur boxing, no MMA.
“He might have lead hands or something,” Aaron Perez said, “so those are the ones you’ve got to watch out for because you don’t know what to expect.”
Abraham Perez is unfazed, since he had dozens of amateur bouts against opponents he knew nothing about.
“My dues are paid in the gym and just the process, the coaching and all that stuff,” he said. “It all shows at the end of the fight.”
THE WEIGH-IN: Aaron Angel Perez weighed in on Friday at 134.4 pounds. Elizondo, considerably taller but slimmer, weighed 134.8.
Abraham Perez weighed in at 110.6 pounds, well under the flyweight limit of 112. Melton weighed in at 102.8, extremely light but also extremely fit.
REQUIRED: As per state regulations, all spectators must wear masks in the venue while not eating or drinking. Boxers, cornermen and all others allowed in the dressing rooms or the technical zone (the fenced-in area between the ring and the stands) are required to be tested for COVID-19.
Boxing: Aaron Angel Perez vs. Diego Elizondo, five other fights. 6:30 p.m., Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque Convention Center. Tickets: $25-$45. Call 505-382-5126 or purchase at the door.
Anthony Hill (1-28, no KOs), Phoenix, 161.6 pounds, vs. Jordan Gregory (0-3-2, no KOs), Albuquerque, 165. Four rounds.
Anthony Bustillos (pro debut), Albuquerque, 108.8, vs. Santiago Giron (1-1. 1 KO), Albuquerque, 108. Four rounds.
Xavier Madrid (1-0, no KOs), Albuquerque, 146.8, vs. Cristian Castillo (3-0, three KOs), Albuquerque, 145.6. Four rounds.
Brandon Heredia (pro debut), Bernalillo, 212.4, vs. Leonid Grachev (2-0, two KOs), Albuquerque, 233. Four rounds.
Matthew Melton (pro debut), Forest, Mississippi, 102.8, vs. Abraham Perez (pro debut), Albuquerque, 110.6. Four rounds.
Diego Elizondo (3-2-3, no KOs), Carson City, Nevada, 134.8, vs. Aaron Angel Perez (10-0-1, Albuquerque, 134.4. 10 rounds.