Mike Perez suffers shoulder injury

May 14th, 2014 | By

By Dan Rafael

Heavyweight contender Mike Perez suffered a left shoulder injury in a sparring session this week, forcing him to withdraw on Friday from a title elimination bout against Bryant Jennings, the promoters announced.

Perez and Jennings were due to meet in an HBO-televised main event on May 24 at the American Bank Arena in Corpus Christi, Texas.

With the main event off indefinitely, the entire card was canceled, including the significant middleweight co-feature between former titlist Daniel Geale (30-2, 16 KOs), 33, of Australia and longtime contender Matthew Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs), 31, of England.

“I was floored when I got the call this morning from Perez’s manager, Patrick Thomas, that he injured his shoulder in sparring,” said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions, Perez’s promoter. “Mike is flying back to Ireland to see a shoulder specialist. I’m hoping to hear good news that the injury is not too serious and the fight can be rescheduled in the near future. I know Mike is devastated because of this setback but looks forward to continuing his dream of marching toward a WBC world title fight.”

Vitali Klitschko vacated his version of the heavyweight title in December and retired, leaving Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola to fight for the vacant belt on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET) at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The winner is required to make back-to-back mandatory defenses under the WBC’s rules. Deontay Wilder, the 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medal winner, is up first and will face the winner next. The fighter who emerges the winner from Stiverne, Arreola and Wilder will be due to face the winner of Jennings-Perez in his next bout.

“When I received the news this afternoon that Perez got injured I felt so bad for Bryant because I know how hard he trained for this fight and how much he was looking forward to fighting for this WBC elimination bout,” Gary Shaw, Jennings’ promoter, said. “I hope that Perez’s injury is minor and we can get these guys back in the ring in a timely manner.”

Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, had a breakout year in 2012 with five nationally televised victories.

He only fought once in 2013, but opened this year strong with an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of previously undefeated Artur Szpilka.

Perez (20-0-1, 12 KOs), 28, a former Cuban amateur standout who defected to Ireland and turned pro in 2008, has fought his past two fights on the big HBO stage.

In November, he won a 10-round decision in a brutal fight against Magomed Abdusalamov, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the fight and — after spending a month in a coma — is in a rehabilitation clinic unable to speak or move much. Dedicating his next fight to Abdusalamov, Perez returned in January and fought Carlos Takam to a 10-round draw.


Vitali Klitschko seeks presidency

March 19th, 2014 | By

By Dan Rafael

Heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko did Thursday what many have expected him to do for quite some time.

“I have decided to run for president of Ukraine [in] 2015,” Klitschko said during a speech in front of the Ukrainian parliament.

Klitschko, 42, who is the leader of the UDAR political party in Ukraine, has been deeply involved in his home country’s politics for the past several years. Klitschko, who had been serving on the Kiev city council, won a seat in the 450-person parliament in the elections last fall, as did more than 40 others from his party.

ESPN The Magazine

How heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko is preparing to run for president of Ukraine. Brett Forrest »

The presidential run could signal an end to Klitschko’s boxing career. Klitschko, who has talked about retirement in favor of politics for the past few years, has not fought since making a ninth successful defense of his world title in September 2012, when he stopped Manuel Charr in the fourth round on a cut in their fight held in Moscow.

Klitschko, a three-time world titleholder and older brother of fellow heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, was due to make a mandatory title defense against Bermane Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs) this fall, but the fight was called off after Klitschko said he suffered a right hand injury in August. Stiverne moved for Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) to be stripped of the title, but the WBC put off any discussion of the situation until the first quarter of 2014.

When Klitschko was training for the fight against Charr, he told ESPN.com that politics was his future and that his training for the fight was his vacation from politics.

Klitschko has been around politics for years, but he became much more interested in it when he and his wife and children left Los Angeles, where they had been living, and returned to Ukraine several years ago.

He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Kiev, the capital of the country, in 2006. That same year, he also was elected to city council.

[+] EnlargeVitali Klitschko

AP Photo/Sergei ChuzavkovVitali Klitschko helped form the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms in 2010 in an effort to clean up government corruption.

In 2010, Klitschko helped found the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms (UDAR), a political party he said was determined to clean up government corruption and give ordinary people a fair shake that Klitschko said they do not have now.

“We want to build democracy in Ukraine,” Klitschko told ESPN.com before the Charr fight. “In Ukraine, you can buy everyone. You can buy every position, every judge, you buy every court decision. The biggest enemy to democracy is that there are no clear rules and so much corruption. Ukrainian politics is simple business and we have to change that. It’s painful to say that Ukraine is the most corrupt country in world and we need to change that. We are for more democracy [and] freedom of speech.”

According to the UDAR platform, the party’s vision is “to liberate the citizens from excessive state control and to limit government intervention into private life. A citizen, not an official, must be the pinnacle of the state pyramid. The government apparatus must serve the citizens and be fully controlled by them.”

Klitschko said the party is growing because there are so many in Ukraine disenchanted by the lack of opportunities and immense government control over many aspects of people’s daily lives. He has tried to work on the problems as part of the city council.

“It’s tough job, to be honest,” he said. “I have learned lessons about Ukrainian politics, and I want to make changes in Ukraine. I am not alone. Together, me and many other people, we have a vision. We are fighting for changes in Ukraine and real democracy in Ukraine.”

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