By: Joe Latti
If boxing were a team sport, then I would have to say the home team won–by shutout. New Jersey boxing fans filled the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ Saturday night and the local talent did not disappoint. KEA Boxing put on a terrific show that overly satisfied everyone who purchased a ticket. Those who enjoy big punches and lots of action were pleased as only one bout was won by decision.
MAIN EVENT – Alex Perez (18-1, 10 KO) over Jeremiah Wiggins (10-3-1, 5 KO) by TKO
In my preview of this event, Alex Perez was originally lined up to face undefeated welterweight Jonathan Perez. After complications, that deal fell through and left Perez with very few options. Those options were to either back out and wait for another match-up to come along, or to move up in weight and face tough boxer, Jeremiah Wiggins. The “Brick City Bullet” decided that backing out was not an option and there was no way he was going to pass on this opportunity after being out of the ring for a little over a year.
“Wiggins is a tough fighter. We watched his tape against Julian Williams and that man took everything Williams threw at him. Wiggins can take a punch…and when you hurt him, he comes back even stronger. His corner stopped that fight, and he argued with them to let it keep going,” said Perez, as I caught up with him at Aspira Gym in Newark, NJ the Monday after the fight. He then added, “But I’m here to show the world I’m destined for greatness, so I just said let’s do it.”
Alex’s last appearance in the ring was in April of 2013 – a unanimous decision victory over Kenny Abril at the previous KEA Boxing event. When asked what was going through his mind moments before finally getting back in the ring, he said, “Just win. Nothing but winning. I knew I had to be smart. This guy could be dangerous once he is hurt. I wanted to just keep my hands up, keep everything tight, and just be smart with my approach.” Perez followed this game plan and won round 1 easily, while Wiggins did not throw many punches.
Round 2 became the game changing round for Perez. Nasty combinations and fierce body shots wore down Wiggins, as Perez was able to knock him down twice in the second round. The second knockdown came at the end of the round, and Wiggins looked like a man defeated when the bell sounded and he went to his corner. “I smelled Blood.” Perez says, “When I looked over at his corner and waited for the bell to ring, I noticed they gave him extra time to get up. I knew right away that he was done. I knew I had to go for the kill, but I had to be smart. I had to be smart and keep my hands up. And that’s what I did, I jumped on him and landed shots to his body…then I finished him.”
Referee Randy Neumann stopped the bout 1:02 into the 3rd round. After all the waiting, anticipation, and a year of training, Alex Perez finally got a taste of the victory he has been waiting for. “When the ref stopped it, the feeling was unexplainable. It felt good. It felt real good. But seeing all my supporters going crazy was even better,” Perez said. There were plenty of supporters, as seemingly more than half the crowd were wearing Brick City Boxing ‘Team Perez’ shirts and were on their feet for most of the bout. Alex says, “They keep on walking with me. Every time I go out there I perform for them and never put on a bad show. That’s just not my style.”
As stated earlier, I went into Aspira Gym the Monday following the bout to catch up with Alex, who was back to training. He took one day of rest and was already back at it. “I’m just waiting on any phone call.” says Perez. “I’ll be ready at all times. I’m just going [to] keep my weight right, and I’m always ready to go. Just keep walking with me and God willing, we’re going [to] make it. I’m going [to] be a world champion, just keep following and keep supporting me and we’re going [to] do it.”
In closing our interview, Alex added, “I want to certainly thank God and my mother who has stayed with me through it all and never turned her back on me. I would also like to thank my corner men Manny “Speedster” Rodriguez and Idris “EZ” Rouse for pushing me and staying with me through this whole camp, and overall just grinding with me.”
Boxing legend Harold Lederman was in attendance, and was impressed by the performance. Harold tweeted, “Alex Perez looked like he’s ready for the top welterweights when he stopped tough Jeremiah Williams in 3 rounds with a viscious southpaw rt.” after the event. Keep a close eye on Alex Perez, as this win should open up some eyes around the Welterweight division and take him to that next level that he believes has been his destiny all along.
Bobby Gunn Jr. (3-0, 3 KO) over Chris Strootman (0-1) by TKO
Bobby Gunn Jr. is only 18 years old and recently turned pro, but already displays excellent composure and ring generalship when he steps in the squared circle. He went right to work in the first round, carefully picking his power shots and landing a high percentage of them as Strootman hit the canvas early in round 1. Shortly after Strootman was able to get back up, Gunn landed a wicked body shot that sent him back down and referee David Fields immediately called the bout at 2:09 in round 1. Keep a close eye on Bobby Gunn Jr. in the near future.
Connie Viruet (1-0. 1 KO) over Angel Ford (0-3) by TKO
Connie Viruet of Hoboken, NJ scored an excellent win over Angel Ford in her professional debut in the female light middleweight division. This bout was an entertaining slugfest, with both women leaving everything they had in the ring. The momentum shifted between the two boxers through the first two rounds, but Viruet came out strong in round 3 and proved to be too much for Ford to handle as the bout was stopped :58 seconds into the 3rd round by referee Randy Neumann.
Alex Serna (1-0, 1 KO) over Steve Singleton (0-1) by TKO
Alex “Popeye” Serna of Queens, NY faced off against Steve Singleton of Newark, Delaware as both boxers were making their professional debut. Serna looked strong out of the gate landing precision combinations and outclassing Singleton for the early part of the first round. Referee David Fields had seen enough and stopped the bout 1:26 into round 1, giving Serna an impressive first victory to start a promising career.
Joe Cusamano (7-1, 5 KO) over Excell Holmes (2-4-1, 1 KO) by TKO
Joe Cusamano out of Richmond, VA looked impressive from the start as he dominated round 1 against the 245 lb. Holmes. Cusamano displayed excellent punching power and landed an abundance of clean punches, which Holmes toughed out the entire first round and fired a few shots back of his own. Round 2 was the same story as Cusamano landed devastating blows, knocking Holmes down early in the round. Holmes got back up and battled a little more but was ultimately stopped 2:41 into round 2.
Dwayne Holman (1-1) over Richard Bonds (0-2) by UD
The opening bout of the night showcased two boxers in only the second bout of their careers squaring off for 4 rounds. Round 1 was an even exchange between the two, with lots of action and energy. Things started to change in the second round as Holman scored a knockdown, but a controversial late blow after the knockdown and a tackle later on by Holman got a rise out of the crowd and the corner of Bonds. Holman gained control in rounds 3 and 4 scoring knockdowns in each, earning him an easy decision of 40-33, 40-33, and 39-34.
To follow the weeks of training leading up to this event for Alex Perez, make sure you check out the video series “Behind the Brick City Bullet” by Resolution Sports. The videos can be viewed at ResSports.com or as always, BrickCityBoxing.com.
A special thank you to Suzan Classen and Gilbert Eid for the photos.