Albuquerque's Abraham Perez ready and eager to face another tough opponent

Mar. 22—Twice in the past year, Albuquerque boxer Abraham Perez has faced opponents with credentials suggesting they were the best and toughest he'd faced.

He didn't just beat those opponents; he beat them up: Jeronil Borres, third-round knockout. Luis Villa Padilla, ninth-round TKO.

Now comes Californian Fernando Diaz, yet another fighter with such a résumé.

And yes, Perez said after Friday's weigh-in at Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant, Diaz probably is the best he's faced.

The scheduled 10-round bout will be contested at Expo New Mexico's Creative Arts Center, with the vacant World Boxing Council Silver Youth flyweight title at stake. A total of eight bouts are scheduled.

"I do feel like he's a very tough and durable fighter in this weight (112-pound) division," Perez (9-0, five knockouts) said of Diaz (13-4-1, four KOs). "I'm pretty excited to see what happens."

Against Diaz, Perez will not be defending the International Boxing Association world flyweight title he won in November by defeating Padilla. He sees the WBC Silver Youth title not so much as a step up — the WBC, unlike the IBA, is one of four universally recognized sanctioning bodies — as a foot in the door.

Perez is not ranked among the WBC's top 40 flyweights, but a victory on Saturday could change that.

"I feel like this belt at least gives me a footstep in with the WBC," he said.

Diaz's record is not without blemishes — he has lost three of his last five bouts — but, win or lose, he's performed well against quality opposition.

In February 2022, Diaz defeated then-unbeaten (10-0) Lorenzo Smith, winning the vacant WBA USA flyweight title.

Six months later, he went the 10-round distance in losing to Juan Carlos Camacho (16-1), now the North American Boxing Federation super flyweight champion. Last May, Diaz lost by split decision to still-undefeated (13-0, nine KOs) John Ramirez.

In preparation, Perez took his training sessions on the road.

"I went to Amarillo, got some good sparring sessions there," he said. "Went to San Antonio, got good sparring there.

"Las Vegas, Nevada, pretty good sparring, and Colorado was pretty good also. ... Very tough people, especially in Colorado."

Perez and Diaz each weighed in on Friday at 111.8 pounds.

ANGEL FLIGHT: Aaron Angel Perez (11-1-1), Abraham's older brother, is matched against Mexico's Juan Antonio Meza (8-9, two KOs) on Saturday in an eight-round semi-main event.

Neither Meza's record nor his knockout ratio suggests he'll pose a problem.

Meza, however, stands 5-foot-11, half a foot taller than Perez — and Perez's only pro loss came against a much taller opponent in Diego Elizondo, who defeated him by close but unanimous decision in 2021.

Perez pointed out that Elizondo is a southpaw, creating problems that Perez won't face on Saturday; he and Meza both are right-handed.

Still, he said, a height and reach advantage are things he'll have to deal with.

"He's probably gonna have a long jab, a long right hand. Shoot, a long uppercut, whatever," he said.

"It's gonna be hard, but I'm gonna have to make my short arms work against the tall opponent."

Perez weighed in at 134 pounds. Meza initially weighed above the contracted weight but an hour later weighed in at 134.4.

REMATCH: Or is it a grudge match?

Albuquerque junior lightweights Andres Rey (2-0, no KOs) and Maximus Moya (3-1, two KOs) are scheduled for a four-round rematch of a bout won by Rey via unanimous decision in August.

The two fighters jostled each other a bit during the traditional pose-down at Friday's weigh-in, though nothing beyond that happened.

Rey weighed in at 130 pounds, Moya at 127.8.

JUST A NUMBER: At 34, Bosque Farms' Katherine Lindenmuth would be the oldest boxer on Saturday's card — were it not for her 42-year-old opponent, Maryguenn Vellinga of Park City, Utah.

Vellinga and Lindenmuth were to have fought in Salt Lake City in 2022, but the bout fell through.

Lindenmuth (5-2, two KOs) weighed in on Friday at 107.8 pounds, Vellinga (4-4-2, two KOs) at 109.

SUPERVISOR: Albuquerque's Alberto Leon, a former New Mexico Athletic Commission chairman and now a WBC vice president, is supervising Saturday's main event and will award the organization's Youth Silver flyweight belt to the winner.

Leon's duties with the WBC have taken him to Panama, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom as well as all around the United States.