By Chris Morris/Rocky Mountain Boxing
Manny ‘Manos’ Perez (19-8-1, 4KOs) will take his show on the road to fight Vernon ‘Iceman’ Paris (27-1, 16KOs) in the main event of tonight’s ESPN Friday Night Fights at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, Paris’ hometown. Each fighter recently had the opportunity to take a step forward with their careers but came up short and now face one another in a fight that will determine the immediate future for each fighter.
Perez, fighting out of Denver, Colorado, enjoyed great success in 2012 as he beat Edgar Santana for the NABA light welterweight title and defended it successfully against Jose Miguel Cotto. His run culminated with a WBA eliminator bout against Paul McCloskey in Belfast, Ireland. Perez lost a wide margin decision while McCloskey picked up the WBA Inter-Continental light welterweight title.
Paris came into his IBF light welterweight elimination bout against Zab Judah undefeated and riding high on his knock out win over Tim Coleman to earn the USBA light welterweight title. Paris fought well but was ultimately stopped in the 9th round by the determined Judah. The win led Judah to the showdown with Danny Garcia just two weeks ago.
The winner of this bout will take a step back toward title contention while the loser will once again be headed back to the proverbial drawing board.
Opening the ESPN telecast will be Lonnie Smith (14-4-3, 10KOs) taking on southpaw Cornelius Lock (20-6-1, 13KOs) in a 10 rounder at junior lightweight. The fighter’s past three bouts have been near mirror images of one another.
Smith was primed for a break out performance as he took on Vicente Escobedo but was blitzed in the first round and stopped. He followed that up with a 12 round decision loss Mason Menard before earning a draw in an abbreviated bout with Michael Perez. The bout was action packed until a clash of heads opened a severe cut on Perez which sent the fight to the scorecards where it was ruled a majority draw.
Lock saw his pair of losses come to top contenders Daniel Ponce De Leon and undefeated, now world champion, Mikey Garcia. He lost to De Leon by decision and to Garcia by TKO in the 11th round. He recently returned to the ring, after a lengthy layoff, and ‘righted the ship’ with a second round TKO over perennial opponent Damon Antoine.
This pair of crossroads fights should see each man at his very best as each of the four fighters know it’s getting closer to the ‘now or never’ end of their respective careers.
The bouts will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 10pm EST.