The original plan called for Venezuelan
puncher Johan Perez to make his American debut on the undercard of Robert
Guerrero's much anticipated return to action against Selcuk Aydin on the last
Saturday of July. However, things worked out differently with “El Terrible”
moving back a week to 21 July when he'll headline with a defense
of the WBA interim light welterweight strap (that he won late last year) on
Televisa/Fox in Cancun against Pablo Cesar Cano (whose only loss in a 24-1-1 (19)
record was to living legend Erik Morales). The revamped plan is for Perez to
use this opportunity as a vehicle to showcase his talents before heading to
America in the fall, possibly to fight one of the elite 140-pounders on the
planet. The unbeaten 29-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela has a fan-friendly
style and a record of 15-0-1 (12) with 1 no-contest. He turned pro back in
2007 but only recently aligned himself with Golden Boy Promotions. Perez was
spotted by Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz who says, “I first saw him fight
in Manchester, England on a David Haye [vs. Audley Harrison] undercard. I was
curious to see him since he was so far from home. His style is more of an
aggressive fighter; as indicated by his record, he goes for the KO and that is
always crowd-pleasing.” All of this makes him a welcome new edition to the
already brimming light welterweight division.
Anson Wainwright - You make the first defence of your
title on 21 July. Can you tell us about the fight?
Johan Perez - Yes, the fight will be on
July 21st in Cancun, Mexico. I am prepared for the one
[Cano] that want to fight against. I am prepared to fight against better 140-pounders.
AW - What are your
goals for this year? If all goes well in your next fight, who are you
targeting? What do you think of the other champions at 140?
YP - My goals are: first, be the
world champion at 140 pounds [for the] WBA and if everything goes fine,
looking for fights with the biggest names in the division like Erik Morales,
Humberto Soto, [Marcos] Maidana, Amir Khan. I think that these are the best
fighters but I’m better with good training I want to beat all of them.
AW - Could you tell us
a little about your career up to this point?
YP - My career at this point in this
last year has been upward but my goal is to be the best at 140.
AW - Probably your best win to date was when you beat American
prospect Kenny Galarza, stopping him in four. Is that your best win and can you
tell us about that fight?
YP - It was in four rounds and I think
that It was a good victory because I study and I could knock him out but
it was the most important when I won against Fernando Castaneda who had his jaw
fractured also in four rounds [in a win] that made me the world champion.
AW - Who are the key
members of your team?
YP - The main members are my dad, Lino
Perez; he is my head coach. Celso Chavez is my other coach. My doctor is Luis
Miguel Gomez; my manager is Mr. Rafael Moron and, of course, my promoter is
AW - This is your first fight under the Golden Boy promotional
banner. How did signing with them come about and what are your thoughts on
getting the opportunity to fight for such a big promoter?
YP – Yes, thank God that I signed with
this big company because Mr. Robert Diaz, the Golden Boy matchmaker, watched my
fights and liked my way of fighting, so he spoke with my manager, Rafael Moron,
and all happened from there. Also, I have to give the thanks to the people of the
WBA that always gave me their support.
AW – Where do you train in Venezuela and who do you train with?
YP - In Venezuela, I train at my father’s
gym, Naciones Unidas in Caracas. In Panama Curundu with Celso Chavez, I train
with other boxers like the [WBA bantamweight] champion Anselmo Moreno, [Ismael]
Barroso, [Yonfrez] Parejo, Nicholas Walters, Charlie Navarro, etc.
AW - Did you have much of an amateur career? What titles did you
win? Also what was your final record?
YP - 117 fights, 100 won and 17 losses
in the amateurs. I was a world junior champion and bronze medalist in the Dominican
Republic. I wish I could have gone to the Olympics and won a gold medal.
AW - Tell us about your younger days and what you liked to do as a
YP - I was unquiet and I liked some
sports, especially basketball and boxing.
AW - How did you first become interested in boxing?
YP - I started to box for my older
brother who has since passed away; his name was Lino Perez Jr.
AW - Edwin Valero was a countryman of yours. Did you know each
YP – Yes, I had some sparring with him;
he was a good boxer.
AW – Finally, do you
have a message for the light welterweight division?
YP - Listen good to
my name because soon, we’ll meet down the road.