Tonight’s Showtime pay per view broadcast opened with a terrific matchup, as American Mauricio Herrera took on Johan Perez, of Caracas, Venezuela. The last time we saw Herrera was in Puerto Rico against 140 pound kingpin Danny Garcia, where many fans feel he was the victim of home cooking in favor of the champ. This time he felt more at home in Las Vegas, which is only about a four hour drive from his residence in Riverside, California. Perez held training camp for this bout in America for the first time in his career, where he benefited from great sparring at Daniel Ponce De Leon’s gym in California.
The opening rounds started with Herrera moving forward and Perez backing up, circling to his left, and attempting to counterpunch. Neither man could get land anything flush, causing a lot of tie ups as they slipped punches and jockeyed for position. Things were a bit messy and Herrera wasn’t cutting off the ring but rather following his opponent. It felt as though the Venezuelan fighter was doing the better work early on.
Toward the end of the fourth Herrera landed a nice right hand that snapped his opponent’s head back; which may have been enough for him to steal the round. Through the middle rounds Herrera would occasionally change tactics, backing up into the ropes and attempting to set traps for his opponent. The strategy appeared to work better for him as he was able to occasionally catch Perez on the way in, while avoided most of the return fire. To this point it was a difficult fight to score because so few blows were landing cleanly and it felt as if a punch or two could sway a round. None the less, things were evening up as Herrera had worked himself back in.
The action really heated up for the first time in the eighth round as both fighters stood toe to toe in the center of the ring and traded shots. Herrera out landed Perez 37 to 14 in the round; his strongest of the fight to that point. The crowd could sense the momentum change and they cheered for the Mexican-American as he steadily outworked Perez. What had begun as an ugly fight in the early rounds had suddenly developed into an intelligent, efficient, workmanlike performance for Mauricio Herrera. He appeared to pull away in the championship rounds, fighting with more energy and closing out rounds concisely. However Perez never stopped coming forward and both men looked to be in tremendous shape as they fought hard through the final bell.
The judges scored it 114-114 and 116-112 twice for Mauricio Herrera, who landed 227 of 715 total punches (32%), compared to 170 of 689 for Perez (25%). This was a case of the Venezuelan carrying the early rounds, but the American evening things up in the middle and taking over late. So it goes down in the books as a majority decision victory for Mauricio Herrera, who improves to 21-4 (7KO) and wins an interim title.
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