READING - When one of his fighters is doing less well than expected, longtime Philadelphia boxing promoter J Russell Peltz is more jittery than Barney Fife on a caffeine binge.
For portions of the first and second rounds of North Philly welterweight Mike Jones' scheduled 10-rounder against Mexican-born, Chicago-based brawler Luciano Perez, Peltz was at his fidgety best, or worst. Jones was fighting Perez' fight, standing and trading instead of sticking and moving, prompting Peltz to wonder if he had done the right thing in allowing his undefeated knockout artist to take the bout in the Sovereign Center.
"Mike was in trouble in the second round," Peltz said after Jones (16-0, 14 KOs) twice knocked downed the bloodied but still dangerous Perez (16-9-1, 14 KOs) in the third round before referee Gary Rosado stepped in and waved the fight to a halt after an elapsed time of 1 minute, 56 seconds. "He was stunned a couple of times. He refused to box; he was trading with the guy."
That is definitely not the strategy that Peltz and Jones' trainer, Vaughn Jackson, had mapped out for someone who had injured his left hand in the gym a couple of weeks ago, which meant Jones had to quit sparring or even hitting the heavy bag. On top of that, Perez, whose trunks were hand-painted with an advertisement for a Chicago Mexican restaurant, must have been patronizing the eatery a bit too regularly. Perez weighed in 154 pounds, 7 over the contracted welterweight limit. And after the allotted 3 hours to pare down, he was able to sweat off only a half-pound.
So why did Team Jones give the go-ahead for their guy, with a sore left hand and fighting someone significantly larger, to proceed? Well, no Jones would have meant pulling the plug on the entire Telefutura/Univision card.
"And the [Wachovia] Spectrum wants to do a farewell boxing card sometime between March and May, sort of like they did with hockey and basketball. We've been talking to them," said Peltz, who obviously envisioned an impressive victory by Jones as a springboard into that trip down nostalgia lane.
Jones alleviated all qualms by first dropping Perez with a chopping right hand in the third round, followed by a winging left hook that landed flush on the jaw. Perez beat the count, but Rosado didn't like the look in his eyes and waved things off.
"My plan was to box him," Jones admitted. "But he's a big guy and he jumped right on me, throwing bombs."
Ignoring any discomfort in his left hand, Jones began timing Perez' wide shots and began to land the sort of power shots that can change a fight's momentum.
"I just needed to hit him on the right spot," Jones said. "on the chin."
In the eight-round junior welterweight co-feature, 2004 U.S. Olympian Rock Allen (14-0, 7 KOs) pitched a shutout in scoring a unanimous decision over Humberto Tapia (13-9-1, 7 KOs).
While it might seem that it was only yesterday that Allen, from North Philly, was a precocious 8-year-old, cranking out 500 pushups at a time and shadowboxing before pro fight cards in his hometown, that was nearly two decades ago. He is now 27, presumably just entering his prime, but the fight with Tapia was only his second ring appearance of 2008.
Naazim Richardson, Allen's father-trainer, said he is satisfied with his son's slow and careful progression. He gave Allen a "C" for performance, "and a 'D' for listening," he said. As was the case with Jones, Allen at times got away from his fight plan and engaged Tapia at close quarters.
At the Blue Horizon:
* Israeli cruiserweight Ran Nakash (16-0, 12 KOs) knocked out Harvey Jolly (8-11-1, 4 KOs) in seven rounds, and Steve Chambers (19-1-1, 5 KOs) scored a unanimous eight-round decision over Ghana's Ben Ankrah (11-9-0, 3 KOs). *