Cubans star in Cork

17 January 2009 – By Padraig De Hoare

The boxing world has been put on notice – the Cubans are coming.

If there was any doubt about the potential world pedigree of heavyweight Mike Perez and super-middleweight Luis Garcia, then it has surely been erased after Saturday night’s action in the SilverSprings Moran Hotel.

Perez and Garcia were sensational in dispatching their respective opponents in two and one rounds respectively – both displayed bone-chilling power and accuracy that had manager Gary Hyde drooling at ringside.

Southpaw Perez, who weighed in at 15 stone 9 pounds, gave opponent Harry Duiven Jr all sorts of trouble from the opening bell.

Duiven Jr, who weighed in at 18 stone 1 pound, had no answer to the crisp combinations and dazzling hand speed of the 23-year-old former junior world amateur champion. The Dutchman, who had lasted the distance with the supposed next big thing in heavyweight boxing, Odlanier Solis, only six months ago, was forced to retreat from the off.

Perez had former world cruiserweight champion and current Sky Sports analyst Glenn McCrory in his corner, and the impact of the Newcastle man’s advice in training was evident from the start.

Unloading beautiful one-two combinations, Perez was the picture of confidence as he swaggered around the ring with mean intent. Duiven Jr had no answer as Perez cut off the ring and hit his prey with deadly accuracy. The Dutchman, who is a Muay Thai world champion, was glad to see the end of round one.

It was all over after 22 seconds of round two when a right hand to the body had Duiven Jr doubled up in pain. Referee David Irving counted to ten, despite the protests of Duiven’s father and corner man Harry Sr, who claimed the gut-busting shot was a low blow. It was borderline, but was perfectly legal. The elder Duiven’s protests were a little disingenuous – his son had been shocked by the cerebral aggression of “El Rebellio” and would not have lasted too much longer anyway.

Perez improves to 7-0, with six knockouts, while Duiven Jr drops to 13-6-1.

There is still plenty to work on with Perez as he is not the finished article by any means. He carries his hands a little too low at times, leaving his chin exposed. However, his conditioning training has paid off superbly and it is frightening to think that he is only likely to get better.

A showdown with an opponent of the pedigree of Solis would be a mouthwatering prospect and Gary Hyde has promised to keep improving the opposition as he moves along.

“This was a good opponent, make no mistake about it,” the Corkman told irish-boxing.com.

“He had gone the full eight with Solis in June, and he has been in with opponents with more than 20 wins under their belt. But when he felt Mike’s power, he couldn’t find an answer. The sky is the limit.”

Super-middleweight Garcia upstaged his compatriot after putting on a boxing clinic against Lithuania’s Mantas Tarvydas.

This should have been a toss-up fight considering the pedigree of opponent that Tarvydas had previously been in with. He has been operating at the fringes of world level for some time, going eleven rounds with the newly-crowned WBO super middleweight champion of the world Karoly Balzsay last April.

Insiders had questioned Gary Hyde’s strategy of putting in his one-fight rookie with such an experienced campaigner, and Hyde admitted beforehand that it was a gamble.

His confidence in Garcia was fully justified, though. The 21-year-old was magnificent in his 105-second demolition. He was finding his opponent with deadly accuracy, showing off a variety of punches. A crunching right hook to the body had Tarvydas in big trouble just under a minute in, and the Lithuanian did well to get back up.

The blood drained from his face as his body went into shock, Tarvydas could not beat the count the second time after another sickening shot to the liver and referee David Irving stopped the contest at 1.45 of the first round. Hyde was in awe of El Toro.

“I took a huge chance on matching Luis with Tarvydas,” he admitted. “While I was confident, I was only 55-45 percent confident. Luis was sensational. This kid will be a world champion before too long, there is no doubt in my mind.”

The third Cuban import, Alexei Acosta, took three rounds to dispatch Romanian debutant Laurentieu Ucristinel Balmau.

It took a while for bantamweight Acosta to start using the jab effectively, but he was in control from the start in any case and when he started to double up with the jab in round two, the writing was on the wall.

In the third round, he started to cut off the ring superbly and Balmau was a weary figure as he trudged back to his corner. He indicated to referee Emile Tiedt that he had enough and the contest was called off.

A wildly entertaining contest between Limerick’s Jamie Power and Latvia’s Martins Kukuls rounded off the night’s entertainment.

Light-heavyweight Power may not be good enough to win any major titles, but is a born crowd pleaser. It was a war from the start, with Power displaying some good skills on the inside. However, he was open to the right-hand counter and was in serious trouble in round three, only barely managing to survive.

He reasserted himself thereafter, and dropped his man with a body shot in round six on his way to a 59-55 decision. Power improves to 4-0, 2 KO, and is expected to be on Andy Lee’s undercard in New York in March.

Power’s advisor Ken Moore told irish-boxing.com that it was a good test for his charge.

“We took the fight at a few day’s notice and you have to remember that Jamie is still learning the game. He walked on to a silly right hand in round three but he recovered well. It was good to see him go six rounds and his work to the body is something we are pleased with,” he said.

“His coach Finbar O’Brien and his conditioning trainer Mario Fellicialo have been working on a few things with him and he will improve as he goes along.

“It was great for him to fight in Cork because his father Tony is from Castletownbere. And New York City would be fantastic. Jamie lived there for a few years and has a huge following over there.

“He is sheer excitement and we hope he will be on Andy Lee’s undercard on Patrick’s weekend if it goes ahead.”

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