Bantamweight Champion Perez Is Upset : Boxing: He loses unanimous 12-round decision to Richardson in eighth defense of title.
Boxing’s recent string of upsets continued Monday night at the Forum, where little-known Greg Richardson upset one of the sport’s dominant champions, Raul Perez.
Richardson, a 116 1/2-pound Youngstown, Ohio, bantamweight nearly six inches shorter than the 5-foot-11, heavily favored Perez (118), won a unanimous decision before 5,949. They watched Perez, unbeaten since 1986 and defending the World Boxing Council bantamweight championship he won in 1988 for the eighth time, go the way of a lot of big favorites lately.
Perez, from Tijuana, considered one of the sport’s classic technicians, never solved the slender, quick, fast-punching Richardson’s hit-and-run attack.
Afterward, Richardson’s cornermen performed a noisy victory dance in the Forum hallway and they and their champion promised unification of the bantamweight title.
For Richardson, 33 and a pro since 1982, Monday was a long time coming. He failed in a previous championship fight, losing in Australia in 1987 to Jeff Fenech on a fifth-round TKO. It is the only time Richardson has ever been stopped.
Several times, Perez slammed punches flush on Richardson’s chin, but he never hurt him. Richardson, who improved to 29-4, earned $12,000. Perez, who wept at the post-fight news conference, made $50,000. He is 48-2-2.
“All I know is that I got beat,” he said through an interpreter, then burst into tears.
Said Richardson’t trainer, Earl Charity: “What you were watching tonight was a little Sugar Ray Robinson. Greg is one of the hardest working fighters in the sport and he’s got a great chin to boot. Perez got him right on the button (several times) tonight and never hurt him.”
Perhaps Perez got caught looking ahead, to a $100,000 payday in Japan that disappeared with his defeat. His manager, Nacho Huizar, was to start negotiating soon for Perez to fight super-bantamweight champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka in Tokyo.
Richardson, whose will-o'-the-wisp style is similar to that of ex- welterweight champion Marlon Starling’s, avoided Perez’s big punches all night and landed enough right-handed punches inside to win going away.
Judge Terry Smith had it 116-112, and Ray Solis and Tamotsu Tomihara both had it 115-113. The Times card had it for Richardson, 116-112, giving him the last seven rounds.
For all 12 rounds, Richardson showed Perez constant head and shoulder motion, used lateral escape routes and constantly escaped harm’s way each time Perez tagged him. Several times he feigned pain on the ropes and actually seemed to cower in front of his taller opponent--only to lash out with quick scoring rights and lefts, and then flee the scene.
The 12th round illustrated Perez’s fight-long frustration. Perez, knowing he needed a knockout to win, fought well in the first minute and Richardson seemed to be slowing down. Perez caught Richardson with a left hook to the chin at center-ring, and Richardson was backed up to his corner.
But Perez missed badly there, and Richardson escaped again. It was Perez’s last chance.
Richardson, who was unmarked, raised welts all over Perez’s face. Perez said afterward he injured the little finger of his right hand in the first round, and had blisters on both feet. Conditioning, Charity said, won this one.
“Greg is always in shape,” he said. “He sparred 150 rounds for this fight, against lightweights and junior-welterweights.”
“I knew I’d win in the first round,” Richardson said. “I felt like I was in control, that he couldn’t hurt me.”
Perez’s loss follows the Forum shocker of December, when Rolando Pascua knocked out Humberto Gonzales in a light-flyweight title fight, and Saturday night’s Las Vegas stunner, when previously unbeaten Hector Camacho lost to Greg Haugen.