There’s only one Michael on Fidel Maldonado Jr.’ s mind this morning, and his last name is not Perez.
That could change, however, by sometime late Saturday.
Maldonado, Albuquerque’s most successful professional boxer of recent years, is scheduled to face veteran Michael Clark in an eight-round lightweight bout at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in Pojoaque. It’s the main event of a seven-bout card promoted by Santa Fe’s Pat Holmes.
Maldonado (20-3, 17 knockouts) is a prohibitive favorite against Clark (44-14-1, 18 KOs), a one-time world title contender who is still fighting at age 42 and has lost his last six fights by knockout.
If Maldonado disposes of Clark, said the Albuquerquean’s father, trainer and manager, Fidel Maldonado Sr., his next fight might be a long-desired rematch with New Jersey fighter Michael Perez (23-1-2, 11 KOs).
In August 2012, Maldonado lost a split decision to Perez in Indio, Calif. Both Maldonados believe that decision should have gone to Fidel Jr., who dropped Perez in the 10th and final round.
Perez’s camp, Maldonado Sr. said, has agreed to the rematch. Both fighters are contracted to Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
But when interviewed on Thursday, Maldonado Jr. dismissed any discussion of a rematch with Perez.
“I’m really not too concerned about anything right now except this guy (Clark),” he said.
In the past, Maldonado said, he occasionally has lacked the sharp focus that any and every fighter needs in any and every fight. Exhibit A was his loss by second-round knockout to Fernando Carcamo at Santa Ana Star Casino in April 2012. That defeat, coupled with the loss to Perez four months later, constituted a major career setback.
Maldonado is still a young fighter (24). But after his third defeat, a January 2015 loss by fifth-round TKO to Amir Imam in Las Vegas, Nev., there can be no more setbacks if he’s to reach his goal of a world title shot.
Thus, Maldonado’s not thinking about Perez, nor is he concerned about putting on a show tonight for a sellout crowd at Buffalo Thunder.
Those things will take care of themselves, he said, if he takes care of Clark.
“I’m not there to impress anyone,” he said. “That’s what I used to (think about). Now, I just go out there and get the ‘W.'”
Clark, of Columbus, Ohio, has been fighting professionally since 1993. He fought for the WBO lightweight title in 1999, losing by knockout to Artur Grigorian, and has won three minor or regional (International Boxing Council, WBC Continental Americas, North American Boxing Federation) title belts.
Those last six losses by KO can be explained to some degree, in that they came against fighters with a combined record of 127-9. Five of them, however, ended in the first round.
This will be Clark’s second fight in New Mexico. He lost by first-round TKO to Mike Alvarado at Tingley Coliseum in December 2007, having injured his hand.
In other bouts, Brandon Holmes and Pat Holmes Jr., sons of the promoter, will be in action. Brandon Holmes (6-0, four KOs) is scheduled to face Albuquerque’s Eric Gonzalez (1-3-1) in a six-round featherweight bout. It’s a rematch of a May 2014 bout won by Holmes.
Holmes Jr. (3-1, two KOs), a former Valley High School point guard, is scheduled to face Mexico’s Miguel Gloria (1-0), who trains in Albuquerque, in a four-round junior welterweight fight.
Albuquerque junior lightweight Alex Holguin (6-1, four KOs), who celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday, is matched against Belen’s Gene Perez (1-3-1).
Española’s Antonio Martinez (4-2-3, three KOs) is scheduled to face Derek Perez (0-3), Gene’s brother, in a four-round junior welterweight bout.