By Kieran Mulvaney
In one corner stands the golden child, a fighter groomed for greatness and promoted as the Next Great Thing.
On Saturday night in St. Louis, in the co-main event of the year’s first 'Boxing After Dark,' that role will be filled by junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner, who fashions himself 'The Problem' and who has already developed a shtick that involves his father brushing his hair while the son conducts his in-ring post-fight interview. Possessed of fast hands and knockout power, as well as a charisma that – as manifested in, for example, the aforementioned hair-brushing routine – is confident to the point of polarizing, he has earned comparisons to a young Floyd Mayweather.
In the other corner stands the half-forgotten stepchild, the earnest yet hungry foe, the promotion’s B-side, anxious to upset the proverbial applecart and make his own mark on the sport.
Introducing Eloy "The Prince" Perez.
Undefeated Perez has a similar number of wins (23), as the 22-0 Broner, but whereas Broner has basked in the spotlight, Perez has toiled in the relative shadows. He is considered fast, but not on the level of Broner; he has some power to his punches, but only enough to stop seven of his opponents, while Broner has halted 18.
But his list of conquered foes includes some solid scalps, and two of his seven stoppages have come in his last two bouts: evidence, say he and his handlers, that he is sitting down more on his punches than in the past. Some observers wonder whether he should be allowed more time to perfect those improvements; but there are others, those who have watched him closely as he has climbed his way through the ranks, who argue that he is ready to spring a surprise, that a praised champion is about to be upended by an overlooked challenger.
The champion, as is his wont, is confident that won’t happen.
“I’m ready to f**k this dude up,” he says.
But the challenger is equally confident that he will.
“It's going to be an exciting fight and I am going to be on top of him,” he predicts. “There's going to be a new world champion.”