One of the fighters on Saturday's Golden Boy card at the Barclays Center getting his best opportunity to date is also one of the least well-known on the slate. Marco Antonio Periban will face off with "Contender" alum Sakio Bika, and the vacant WBC 168-pound crown will be up for grabs.
Not knowing boo about Periban, who has fought mostly in Mexico, and not on TV, I sought him out at a Tuesday media workout at Gleason's and gave him the once-over.
I saw a genial, confident, humble sort from Mexico City who convinced me that, at the very least, he has a solid game plan to have his hand raised Saturday.
Periban, a 28-year-old with a 20-0 record (13 KOs), threw me a curveball right away when I asked him which fighters he looked up to growing up. I expected a no-brainer answer, like Marco Antonio Barrera, or Juan Manuel Marquez, both of whom grew up in Mexico City. No dice; Periban answered Roy Jones and Oscar De La Hoya. He enjoyed their fighting style, he said, and saw in them a style he could incorporate. At 6-foot-2, he said, he likes to use his height, reach and range.
"Bika is a strong fighter without technique," Periban said when asked about his 31-5-2 foe from Cameroon. "When he starts to look for the knockout, I will start to box." He will use his legs, he said, the whole round. "I have fast hands, and I use movement," he added.
Periban got into boxing at the behest of his mother, because her father boxed, and she has high regard for the sweet science. Periban's father, Enrique, looked on with pride at Gleason's, and so did sister Guadalupe, a boxer who will turn pro in June in Canada. I asked Enrique if he was nervous, having two (of three) children being fighters.
"No, I don't get nervous at all," he said. "I'm very confident in their preparation."
The 34-year-old Bika, receiving his fourth world title opportunity and still looking for a win, loves to rumble and doesn't mind blurring the rules line.
"I'm more than ready for that," Periban said. "I've been sparring guys 190, 200 pounds. I'm ready for underhanded tactics. I will come back to Mexico with the belt."