Title bouts featuring undefeated fighters are a rarity these days, especially those between two boxers with strong local followings who wind up fighting away from their adoring local fans. But such is the rare treat we'll get Saturday in St. Louis when Eloy Perez (23-0-2, 7 KOs), a native of Rainier, Wash., now fighting out of Salinas, Calif., makes his first attempt to win a world title by challenging junior lightweight champion Adrien Broner (22-0, 18 KOs) of Cincinnati. As the fighters' records suggest, this represents more than just a match between two in-their-prime young guns trying to set themselves up for bigger challenges. It could be a defining moment for either (or both) fighters, who have the same agenda and very similar skill sets, although Broner is clearly the heavier puncher and Perez the slicker technician.
We caught up with Perez -- "El Principe" -- during the last stages of his preparation for the most important fight of his career, and this is what he had to share:
What can you tell us about your training for this fight?
I've been training in Oakland [Calif.]. I had some great sparring partners, like Keandre Gibson, Mike Dallas [Jr.] and others. The preparation has been great; I couldn't be happier. I am getting ready and focused, and just waiting for the final countdown.
What's your take on Broner as a fighter?
What can I say? He is a world champion and he's got skills. He is undefeated for a reason. But when I get my chance on [Saturday], I will show that I want it more.
Broner's nickname is "The Problem." What is the biggest problem he could give you Saturday?
To be honest, I can't tell you. That's my team's mission, to find out what I should work on and what I need to beat him. But he hasn't done anything to show me that I'm not better than him. I am prepared for him. I am prepared for whatever he has to offer. He's not going to beat me.
This could be seen as a classic boxer-versus-puncher type of fight. Do you see it that way?
No, I think this is going to be a fight based on speed. He's fast, I am fast, so this is going to be the main thing. Obviously he can pop, as his record shows, but it's going to be an exciting fight and I am going to be on top of him. There's going to be a new world champion on [Saturday].
What's the strategy for a relentless guy like Broner, strictly from a boxing point of view?
We're both fast, so whoever is the smarter fighter will win. It will be an exciting fight.
Is Broner the most difficult of the champs in this division?
I don't think so. There are five champions in each weight class and we all have to fight each other to see who's the best at 130 pounds. I think that [IBF titlist] Juan Carlos Salgado and the Japanese champs [Takashi Uchiyama and Takahiro Ao] are the most difficult ones.
You grew up professionally in front of your local fans. What do you expect for this fight on neutral ground? Do you think you'll be able to win over fans?
From my point of view, I think it's going to be an exciting fight for all boxing fans -- and especially for my fans, to see me on such a big stage. And there's a lot of fans in my hometown in Salinas, Calif., who are going to follow me there because they want to see the people's champ.
How do you envision Saturday's fight playing out?
Explosive. It's not going to be a distance fight. Someone's not going to make it through the 12 rounds. That's all I can say.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.