Raul Perez, the best boxer you never heard of, survived a savage bout with Argentinian Lucio Lopez at the Sports Arena Thursday night to retain his World Boxing Council bantamweight championship on a unanimous decision.
It was the bloodiest bout seen in Southern California in several years.
Halfway through the 12-round fight, both boxers were all but covered, front and back, with blood, flowing from cuts high on their foreheads. Ghengis Khan might have stopped this one, but not referee Chuck Hassett or ringside physician Dr. Bernhard Schwartz.
The 5-foot 11-inch, 117 1/2-pound Perez, in the first defense of his championship, had things going his way after two rounds.
But midway through the third, Lopez, 5-4 and 116 3/4, butted him in a clinch. Perez came out of the clinch with a deep cut in his hairline, on the right side of his forehead. Hassett deducted a point from Lopez for the butt, warned him several more times for butts but failed to warn him after numerous other butts.
In the third, Perez’s wound bled freely, and while he seemed momentarily rattled, the 22-year-old champion from Tijuana managed to stay away from Lopez and land the heavier blows.
Most of those in the crowd of about 5,000 were Perez supporters and loved it. They cheered and chanted, “Meh-hee-co!” and, when it was over, threw coins into the ring, where they landed in the blood.
Perez’s cut was ghastly enough. But Lopez, the 10th-ranked WBC super-bantamweight and South American champion, himself wound up with the same kind of cut in the sixth.
After that, spectators in the ringside seats were spattered the rest of the way. By the end, referee Hassett’s sleeves were red to the elbow, and the front of Lopez’s white shorts were pink. However, Hassett called only two timeouts between rounds--after the third and eighth rounds. Schwartz visited Perez’s corner only twice and never inspected Lopez.
The only knockdown occurred in the 12th round, when Perez landed four consecutive blows to the head, the final one a short left hook. Lopez briefly dropped to one knee, then took a standing-eight count.
Judges Terry Smith, Horico Castillo and Raul Caiz scored it for Perez by scores of 116-110, 115-112 and 116-111, respectively.