Heavyweight Mike Perez, whose last fight on Nov. 2 in New York left opponent Magomed Abdusalamov in a coma for more than a month, will return to the ring Jan. 18.
Perez will face Cameroon native Carlos Takam in a scheduled 10-round fight at the Bell Centre in Montreal in one of the HBO-televised undercard bouts on the show headlined by the much-anticipated all-Montreal showdown between former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute.
"We're thrilled to bring Mike back to the ring and back on HBO so quickly following his win on Nov. 2. Mike's battle with Magomed Abdusalamov was a highly competitive bout, and in light of Mago's injuries from that fight, Mike will be dedicating this upcoming bout to him," said Tom Loeffler, managing director of K2 Promotions, which promotes Perez.
"We're also very happy that HBO has shown a renewed commitment to the heavyweight division, which has always been the premier division in the sport. Mike wants to stay active and show that he's one of the best heavyweights in the world."
Perez and Abdusalamov engaged in a brutal battle, which Perez won by unanimous 10-round decision. Shortly after the fight, Abdusalamov was rushed to the hospital, where a blood clot in his brain was discovered. He underwent surgery and was put into a medically induced coma, during which he suffered a stroke. Only in recent days was Abdusalamov roused from the coma and it appears as though he will live, although doctors do not yet know the extent of the permanent damage he suffered.
So Perez (20-0, 12 KOs), 28, a former Cuban amateur standout now living in Ireland, will carry on with his career against Takam (28-1, 22 KOs), 33, who lives in France.
Perez said he will donate a portion of his purse to Abdusalamov's family, which is saddled with overwhelming medical bills, and will honor him in the ring by having Abdusalamov's name stitched on his trunks.
"I'm excited to return to training with my coach, Abel Sanchez, in Big Bear, Calif.," said Perez, who will be training with Sanchez for the second time. "My thoughts since Nov. 2 have been with Mago and his family, and I pray he makes a full recovery. Takam is a very strong heavyweight with a great record, but I'll be fully prepared to be successful on Jan. 18."
Takam, who will be fighting outside of France for the second time, has two notable names on his record -- former world title challengers Michael Grant and Frans Botha -- but both were many years past their primes. Takam, a 2004 Olympian for Cameroon, knocked out Grant in the eighth round in May and stopped Botha in the 11th round in March 2012.
"I'm excited that my fight will be on HBO," Takam said. "I have a lot of respect for Perez, but on Jan. 18 I will prove that I can beat him in the ring."
In another fight announced for the televised tripleheader, which kicks off HBO's 2014 season, Colombian-born, Montreal-based light heavyweight Eleider Alvavez (13-0, 8 KOs), 29, will face South Africa's Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13 KO), 25, who is moving in weight from super middleweight.