Mike Perez is preparing for the fight of his life. HBO Sports via YouTube
the rebel

The Cuban boxer from Cork who is one win away from a world title shot

Mike Perez has been living in, and boxing out of, Ireland for the past six years.

A CUBAN BOXER, who has fought out of Ireland since 2007, is within one victory of earning himself a world heavyweight title shot.

Mike Perez defected from Cuba seven years ago and was a major loss to the country’s amateur boxing program. He won gold in his weight class at the World Junior Championships in 2004 but getting a taste of life beyond Cuban shores — he fought Kenneth Egan in an amateur bout in 2005 — led to a desire to leave his native country on a more permanent basis.

His first attempt to defect landed him in prison but the second, in early 2008 and under the cover of darkness and in a rickety boat, resulted in his arrival in Ireland, via Mexico.

The 28-year-old made his professional debut two weeks later and is undefeated in the six years since. He has 20 wins [12 by KO] and one draw as a heavyweight. His personal life has had many successes, including a fiancé from Cork and the arrival of three daughters.

A victory against Magomed Abdusalamov at Madison Square Garden, last November, put him on the heavyweight map. His next outing was a “lacklustre” draw again Carlos Takam in January so Saturday evening’s fight against Bryant Jennings is crucial for his world-title [WBC] ambitions.

Speaking on the HBO preview for the bout, Perez said, “Sometimes it is hard, you know, but nothing is easy in this life. You have to work for it. That’s what I do.”

Jennings, for his part, describes Perez as “prey” and backs up his words with an unbeaten record of his own [18-0, 10 KO's]. “I’m not coming with a plan A, B, or C. I’m coming with plans A through Z. Just because you’ve got one thing figured out don’t mean that’s the only thing I’ve got in my arsenal.”

HBOsports / YouTube

The bout takes place in New York in the early hours of Sunday morning. Sky Sports 1 is covering all the action from 1:30am. [Hat-tip to Michael McCarthy of Pundit Arena, who has put together an excellent profile on Perez.]

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