By Diego Morilla
For some fighters, staying unbeaten is the one key to their success, their one claim to fame and their most preciously protected bragging right on their way to their championship dreams.
There are some others, however, who find it more interesting to ruin someone else’s unbeaten record instead. And one of them appears to be Venezuela’s Johan Perez, who has enjoyed his best moments against unbeaten opponents and plans on continuing his streak this coming Saturday at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino when he will face undefeated Russian contender Dmitry Mikhaylenko in the main event of a card televised live on HBO Latino Boxing beginning at 10:30 pm ET/PT.
Perez (20-2-1, 13 KO) and Mikhaylenko (19-0, 8 KO) will be clashing in an intriguing matchup of two contrasting styles. Although neither one of them is known for his punching power, it is quite clear that Mikhaylenko will have the upper hand in this particular department, and it is also clear that the rangy Perez will be looking to turn this bout into a stick-and-move competition.
So far, the mid-long range punch-and-get-out tactic has worked marvels for Perez, who engaged in his first title bout in his 16th fight (even though it was merely one of the WBA’s devalued “interim” versions of the junior welterweight belt).
But those days are behind him now. Currently fighting as a welterweight, Perez is seeking the chance to fight for a more legitimate title belt in the future. He's produced a few explosive performances in his recent streak under the spotlight since a competitive loss by a frustrating technical decision to Pablo Cesar Cano in 2012.
After losing his precious 0 to Cano, Perez had a string of high-profile victories in his next few outings, starting with a hard-fought win over former champion Steve Forbes, and then proceeding to ruin two perfect records by defeating Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai and former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora. But his competitive loss against upset specialist Mauricio Herrera in July of 2014 convinced him that his days as a 140-pound fighter were over. He moved on to beat Mexico’s Humberto Gutierrez in his next bout, the start of his career at the competitive welterweight division, where he be meeting Mikhaylenko.
Nicknamed “The Mechanic,” Mikhaylenko has been known for his methodical dismantling of opponents with a style based on his strong body punching. But he leaves himself open to dangerous counters and has problems keeping a safe distance, which could spell disaster against a rangy and accurate fighter like Perez, who was described by former victim Spadafora as a "tough fighter with an awkward rhythm."
Mikhaylenko will be seeking to improve his record away from home with a third victory on American soil after convincingly beating Ronald Cruz and Sechew Powell in two of his previous outings. Everything suggests that “The Mechanic” will have to dig deep into his tool bag if he wants to emerge victorious against an inspired and talented Perez.
In another intriguing matchup between two fighters on different sides of the title fight spectrum, Cuba’s former title contender Yoandris Salinas (21-1-2, 14 KO) will square off against undefeated standout Manuel Avila (17-0, 7 KO) in a 10-round super bantamweight co-main event.
Salinas had his title shot in 2013 against Scott Quigg for a super bantamweight belt, but the fight was declared a draw. Avila, hailing from nearby Fairfield, Calif., is a fast-rising contender who could be making his case for a title fight in 2016 if he defeats Salinas, in what looms as the toughest challenge in his career so far.
Kicking things off and recently added to the undercard, Irish knockout artist and Los Angeles transplant Jason Quigley (7-0, 7 KOs) will take on Eddie Hunter (10-13-2, 3 KOs) of Seattle in a six-round super middleweight bout.