An interesting fight between two of the top up-and-coming heavyweights has been ordered -- and both sides are interested.
Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez, who have both had their recent fights on HBO, have been ordered to fight each other in a world title elimination bout. The WBC title is vacant and will be filled by the winner of the May 10 rematch (on ESPN) between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola. Under the WBC rules, if the organization elects to follow them -- not always a given -- the winner of a vacant title is supposed to make back-to-back mandatory defenses.
The Stiverne-Arreola winner is already mandated to face Deontay Wilder in the next fight following Wilder’s first-round knockout of Malik Scott last Saturday.
The second mandatory defense is supposed to be against the winner of Jennings-Perez. The sides are supposed to negotiate and if they don’t make a deal a purse bid will be held on April 25, as per the letter the WBC sent to both camps on Monday.
“Jennings and Perez want to fight each other,” Gary Shaw, Jennings’ promoter, told ESPN.com. “Jennings is very athletic and we believe he has the speed and movement to beat Perez. Perez, in his last fight, showed he had trouble with speed and movement. Jennings is not going to stand in front of him with no head movement and try to catch bombs. That is not his style.”
Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, made his HBO debut on Jan. 25, knocking out previously undefeated Artur Szpilka of Poland in the 10th round in New York. It was a dominant performance for Jennings, who was ahead 88-82 on all three scorecards at the time of the knockout.
Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw, a native of Cuba living in Ireland, has had his past two fights on HBO. In November, he won a unanimous decision in a grueling 10-rounder that turned tragic as his opponent, Magomed Abdusalamov, suffered a brain injury, spent a month in a coma and is lucky to be alive, although he’ll never be the same. Perez returned Jan. 18 and, dedicating the fight to Abdusalamov, fought a 10-round draw with Carlos Takam in Montreal.
“We have always been interested in the Jennings fight for Perez,” K2 promoter Tom Loeffler told ESPN.com. “I think it is a great fight between two undefeated heavyweights that have both appeared on HBO. I have been speaking to Gary and we are waiting on a confirmation on a television date for us to put this fight on. The winner is in a great position with a guaranteed title fight and I think the winner of Jennings-Perez becomes the WBC heavyweight champion.”
If Shaw and Loeffler cannot make a deal and the fight goes to a purse bid, the split would be 60-40 in favor of Jennings, who is the higher rated fighter.