Last weekend, Jorge Linares battled past Anthony Crolla to capture the WBA lightweight belt, in the biggest 135-pound bout of the year. This Friday in California, Petr Petrov and Michael Perez face off in an important lightweight contenders bout.
Petrov is a Russian native who lives in Spain. Now 37-4-2 with 18 KOs, he turned professional in his adopted country when he was just 17 and spent the first decade of his career battling his way up through the domestic ranks, losing two close fights in his early years, but winning often and frequently by stoppage. In 2011, he finally got a fight outside of Spain, moving up to 140 pounds and facing rising star Marcos Maidana in Argentina. He got knocked out in four rounds.
However, his only loss since then came by a relatively close decision against Dejan Zlaticanin in April 2013. Zlaticanin is now the WBC champion and one of the two top fighters in the lightweight division. Petrov has won five straight since then, including the 2015 Boxcino Tournament on ESPN. Last May, he stopped tough contender Marvin Quintero in six rounds.
Perez is 24-1-2 with 11 wins inside the distance. His only loss came by Round 6 TKO to Omar Figueroa back in 2012. Still just 26, he has developed into a solid contender in the past two years. He knocked down former world champion Miguel Acosta and defeated him by decision in January of 2015. Six months later, he knocked out Luis Sanchez.
Petrov and Perez are both at the point in their career where they need the sort of win that the other represents. They are both on the cusp of a title fight. This will be one of the more important fights that happens this year at lightweight.
I have been following Petrov since watching him work his way through the Boxcino tournament. I was ringside for his knockout of Fernando Carcamo in the finals. He has trekked a long road in his career and at 33, is no longer a kid. For sentimental reasons, I would like to see him collect a world title some day.