(Alejandro Perez lands a right againt Art Hovhannisyan; credit: Craig Bennett, Showtime)
There wasn’t much relaxing at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Friday.
Showtime’s ShoBox series and Gary Shaw productions hosted an action-packed night of the sweet science from Cabazon, Calif.
The main event was a closely contested outing between a pair of Wild Card Gym sparring partners, as Alejandro Perez edged Art Hovhannisyan in a junior lightweight fight that brought the hall’s crowd to its collective feet.
It was just the fourth fight since 2009 for Perez (16-3-1, 11 KOs), who recently moved up in weight. He had lost in his previous two appearances on the program, but his third was the proverbial charm.
Though the two confess to being friends outside the ring, all bets were off within the ropes. Roughly 80 rounds of sparring discouraged neither man from searching for the finishing blow, and at times things got slightly dirty. Referee Roy Corona issued warning to Perez for a lowblow in the 4th, and the following round saw Corona deduct a point from the him for a similar—albeit less damaging—offense.
Hovhannisyan (15-1-2, 8 KOs) had been riding high after defeating two former champs in his last two bouts. The 31-year-old Armenian lost for the first time in his career.
With many close rounds, TQBR scored the bout 95-94. Official scores were 95-94 and 96-93 twice.
In a highly active and entertaining undercard bout, middleweight Tureano Johnson pitched a shutout against an iron-chinned Willie Fortune. Johnson, a 2008 Olympic quarterfinalist from the Bahamas, remains undefeated in the professional ranks at 14-0 with 10 knockouts.
Following referee Daniel Sandoval’s command of “let’s go to war,” Johnson and Fortune, a cousin of Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage, fought at a brisk pace in tight quarters for most of the scheduled eight rounds. Though the 29-year-old Bahamian landed a pin-point accurate 59 percent of his total punches—and 61 percent of his power shots—“Fortune 500” would not fold. The Detroit native answered his opponent’s blows gamely but connected at a much lower rate (21 and 24 percent, respectively).
The mouthpiece of Fortune (15-1, 7 KOs) was dislodged in the 5th, but Sandoval allowed the exchange between the fighters to continue for several seconds before picking it up and ordering Fortune’s corner to rinse off the guard.
Johnson, who had never been past six rounds, smothered the unorthodox Fortune for the majority of the 24 minutes, sometimes switching to southpaw. He came in nine pounds lighter than his previous outing and maintained a somewhat somber expression from his ring walk to the moment Sandoval raised his hand in victory.
All three judges scored the bout 80-72. TQBR also tallied the same score.