Perez-Maicelo to kick off 'FNF' season

The Jan. 9 season debut of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” can’t come soon enough, and now there is a main event set for the first card of the year.

Interim lightweight titlist Darleys Perez is due to face Jonathan Maicelo at the Chumash resort in Santa Ynez, California, according to the network and Perez co-promoter Gary Shaw.

On Oct. 24, Perez (31-1, 20 KOs), 31, of Colombia, retained his interim belt for the first time by knocking out Jaider Parra in Colombia. After the fight, Perez said, “I’ll enjoy this win for a little bit, but after that, it’s back to work. I need to stay focused and ready for the next challenge.”

That challenge is right around the corner for Perez, whose only loss was by competitive decision in a June 2013 interim title bout to Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Maicelo (21-1, 12 KOs), 31, a native of Peru living in New Jersey, is 2-0 with a head-butt-induced no contest since suffering his lone defeat, an eighth-round knockout to Rustam Nugaev in April 2013.

“Very tough fight for both,” Shaw said. “Perez looked very good in his last fight and believes Maicelo is a fight that he has to be at his best to win. Maicelo said he is ready for anyone at 135 and he wants the opportunity. He is training hard and remembers his loss to Nugaev in Chumash and said that will not happen again. Perez is not looking past Maicelo but is looking for the big boys at 135.”