Junior welterweight contender Mauricio Herrera fought the fight of his life on March 15, but came out on the wrong end of a majority-decision loss to world champion Danny Garcia in Garcia's Puerto Rican homecoming.
Legions felt that Herrera deserved the decision. Although the sting of that loss still has not gone away for Herrera, he is at least getting an opportunity for another fight of note, when he challenges interim titlist Johan Perez on July 12 (Showtime PPV) on the undercard of the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara "Honor & Glory" card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"I'm not totally over it, with Danny Garcia. It was frustrating for a while. But I still think about that fight," Herrera said. "It is still frustrating in my head. But I wasn't surprised at the decision either. Nobody ever expected me to do that well, so I have the mentality that I just have to keep going, keep going forward and keep proving myself.
"I think every fight I've always had to prove myself. It's no different today. So I have a strong mind and a strong character. As you see in my fights, I can take a good punch. I hold all that in, and I think with Johan Perez I think I might just, who knows, let it all out in that fight."
Herrera, (20-4, 7 KOs), 34, of Riverside, California, has had his ups and downs. In 2012, he lost back-to-back decisions to Mike Alvarado (in a fight of the year candidate) and Karim Mayfield. But in 2011, he handed recently deposed titleholder Ruslan Provodnikov his first defeat.
Knowing how he was treated by the judges in the Garcia fight, Herrera -- who is not a knockout puncher -- said that he feels like he needs a stoppage against Perez.
"I think so. We've been thinking about it a lot, and we're looking for a stoppage," he said. "We want to maybe stop Johan if it's possible. We are going to look to make an exciting fight. I know I can box all day, but I think in this fight I might switch it up at times and I may try to look for a stoppage of some kind. I'm not a real power hitter, but that doesn't mean I can't stop a fighter.
"Anything can happen in there. And, yes, I'm looking, if it's not a stoppage or knockout, at making it an exciting fight."
Venezuela's Perez (19-1-1, 13 KOs), 31, who is 5-foot-11 (very tall for a junior welterweight and four inches taller than Herrera), won the vacant interim belt in November by taking a majority decision against previously undefeated former lightweight titlist Paul Spadafora. Perez defended the belt by 10th-round knockout against Fernando Monte de Oca in Venezuela on May 10.
Perez said he also thought Herrera deserved the decision against Garcia.
"I saw Mauricio winning the fight. I think Danny got the decision because, obviously, he was the local in Puerto Rico," Perez said. "And a victory over him, of course, it's very important because that will show the world who Johan is, and that's what we're working for. Most importantly, right now, let's give the fans what they want -- a great fight, may the best man win. I'm looking forward to it."