Manuel Perez, a journeyman fighter who works two jobs to keep himself training for his boxing career, upset Edgar Santana in today's ESPN Friday Night Fights opener, winning on unanimous decision scores of 96-94 across the board. Bad Left Hook had it 98-93 for Perez, while ESPN's Teddy Atlas scored it 97-93 for Perez.
Perez (17-7-1, 4 KO) was relentless in coming forward and banging away, landing shots to the body early on to dictate the pace, and then later landing repeated left hooks to the head that kept Santana (26-4, 17 KO) off-balance and unsure of how to combat the smaller but seemingly tougher and more spirited fighter.
For Santana, 33, this was a fight he had to win to make an unlikely climb into contention at 140 pounds, and he just didn't get it done, not letting his hands go enough and having a lot of footwork issues that left him in bad spots too often.
In the middle rounds, Santana tried to get flashy and potshot his way to victory, but didn't do enough to convince anyone he was truly "out-boxing" Perez. He flicked a jab and tried to keep Perez off of him, but even moving around the ring, he didn't move well enough to shut down Perez, who hunted him and found him over and over, and once in close, generally outworked Santana, and truly earned this victory.
The super featherweight main event between Juan Carlos Burgos and ex-featherweight titlist Cristobal Cruz is up next.