North versus South plays out in California as mini but speedy Eloy “Prince” Perez gets set to defend his national title against Southern California’s equally speedy Dominic “DJ” Salcido.
It’s not really a rivalry but each camp is very familiar with the other especially since they both share Big Bear Mountain as an occasional training base. It’s a large mountain resort but few people live there.
“They’ve been calling me out for a while,” says Salcido.
Perez (18-0-2, 5 KOs), who lives in Salinas, defends the NABO junior lightweight title against Rialto’s Salcido (18-2, 9 KOs) on Friday Oct. 15 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. The Golden Boy Promotion fight card will be televised by Telefutura.
On more than one occasion Perez has trained in Big Bear where he’s either preparing for one of his fights or helping resident Sugar Shane Mosley. But this time the native Mexican chose to work out of the equally busy Oxnard area.
Perez and his trainer Max Garcia know plenty about Salcido.
“Dominic is a very good fighter,” said Garcia has been familiar with Salcido for years. “He’s very fast and very quick.”
Salcido has a slight height advantage over Perez but that’s nothing new for the Northern Californian who attacks in spurts and with urgency as if making up for his lack of size.
“I like to go to war,” says Perez, 23, who sparred with Brandon Rios and Ariz Ambris to prepare for Salcido. “I have to be smarter than him.”
Perez, whose style resembles a smaller Mosley, has battled to the title with an aggressive style that serves him well. He’s an eager beaver when it comes to boxing and refuses to allow an opponent to out-punch him; a human buzz saw that always looks to throw another punch.
“I’ve got to pick my spots, take more chances,” Perez said by telephone. “I can’t stop thinking or lose focus.”
In Perez’s last win he stopped gritty Derrick Campos in the fifth round in Pico Rivera. Though not known for his power he has pop in both hands.
“I’ve got to be focused and humble,” Perez insists.
Nobody knows more about being humble than Salcido.
Twice he was on the verge of victory when it all came crashing down from a single punch. For anybody who thinks speed always wins out they better think again.
First, two years ago, a pivotal match against Sacramento’s Vicente Escobedo saw the Rialto fighter on his way to a points victory against the former U.S. Olympian. With four rounds left Salcido opened up with some of his flashy combinations and was caught with a well timed left hook Down he went. A year ago the same scenario happened again.
“Those two losses set me back,” said Salcido, 26, a lithe super quick boxer with surprising power. “I learned I have to stay humble and never lose focus.”
Salcido had been primed for big things had he beaten Escobedo. Even that loss didn’t hurt his reputation. Then a match against diminutive Colombian slugger Ilido Julio, that saw the Rialto boxer win every round, ended with a devastating loss from a single punch. Losing can break you or make you.
“Losing made me a stronger, humbler person,” says Salcido. “I learned that the hard way.”
A chance to prove that point arrived this past May when he met undefeated Puerto Rican slugger Guillermo Sanchez in a fight televised nationally. Salcido was the under dog and proved he still had skills and plenty of speed to go with focus. It was a tremendous win.
New trainer Armando Huerta has been refining the skills that made Salcido a prospect and preparing him for the task to challenge Perez. It’s a more technical approach meant to utilize Salcido’s longer reach, height and forgotten power.
“Eloy (Perez) likes to attack, so obviously you out-box him,” says Huerta, whose son Charles Huerta is also fighting on the same card against Felipe Cordova of Texas. “We’re working on him sitting down on his punches.”
Both Perez and Salcido have known about each other for years and now a national title is on the line.
“He’s been calling me out for a long time,” said Salcido of the title opportunity. “Careful what you ask for.”
Undefeated heavyweight Seth Mitchell has a scheduled 10 round bout with veteran Derrick Brown; Huerta tangles with Texas fighter Cordova in an eight round feather weight match; East L.A.’s Frankie “The Pitbull” Gomez risk his undefeated record against Ramon Montano in a junior welterweight fight; former U.S. Olympian Deontay Wilder and local fighters Randy Caballero and Gabino Saenz are also scheduled in separate fights. At press time opponents had not been named.
Fights on television
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Antonio Tarver (27-6) vs. Nagy Aguilera (16-4).
Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Eloy Perez (18-0-2) vs. Dominic Salcido (18-2).
Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (19-0-1) vs. Ivan Hernandez (28-4-1).
Sat. Fox, 8 p.m., Julio Miranda (33-5-1) vs. Michael Arango (31-9-3).