Peralta set for next fight
Appeal Sports Writer
The path to boxing's promised land is filled with many steppingstones.
A boxer must first navigate his way through the amateur ranks, turn professional, slug his way through four- and six-round undercard fights and move himself into the position of being a main-event fighter.
Carson City lightweight Mike Peralta paid his dues with a 77-bout amateur career and his pro debut – a unanimous four-round decision over Shawn Yacoubian Aug. 24., in Irvine, Calif. – is now out of the way.
The 24-year-old Peralta, 1-0, is now entering the next phase of his development and will face 24-year-old Yoshi “The Samurai” Fujii in a four-round lightweight contest, which is on the four-bout, second annual Knockout Night at The Fair, in Fresno, Calif., on Oct. 8.
Fujii, who was born in Japan, has a record of 2-1-1 with 2 knockouts, according to Anibal Miramontes. Boxrec.com incorrectly lists Fujii as 2-0-1 (2).
At this stage in his career, Peralta is ahead of most of his peers as his bout will be the main event on the card. He also signed a three-year contract with manager Jackie Kallen, who guided James Toney to the first of his several world championships and was the den mother on the NBC reality series “The Contender.”
“She even took 20 percent instead of 33 (of the purse),” Peralta said of Kallen. “I’m 24 and taking this pretty seriously. It’s about how far I can go and how fast. Jackie knows what she’s doing. I put myself in her hands.”
For her part, Kallen feels she’s made a smart business move.
“I’m really happy. I think we’ll do really well together,” Kallen said Monday from Los Angeles. “I like his dad (Francisco Peralta, who runs the Carson City Boxing Club) and (assistant) Quentin (Blue Horse). They’re nice people. They all have the same thing in mind: Everyone’s there to see the best Michael can do. Everyone’s on the same page.”
According to Mike and Francisco, they haven’t always been on the same page. Asked what he liked most about Mike’s victory over Yacoubian, Frank gave one of those honest answers only a father can.
“The right thing he did was listen,” Frank said. “I was surprised.”
Frank’s confession of his honest surprise drew a somewhat startled chuckle from Mike, who looked to be taken aback from the remark Monday at the Carson City Boxing Club.
“He really did,” Frank continued, allowing himself a small laugh. “I have to give him credit. A lot of times when he was an amateur, we butted heads. This time he did his best and won the fight.”
“I’m older now,” Mike explained. “I’m able to understand what he’s talking about. As an amateur I was hard-headed. Now I’m agreeing with him. We’re doing things together. We understand each other now.”
This new unity was part of the reason Peralta had an auspicious debut against former kick boxer Yacoubian, who had the Irvine crowd’s support before the fight.
“He really did. The other guy (Yacoubian) had a lot of fans,” Kallen said. “Mike didn’t have as big a support system going in, but the crowd was cheering him at the end. In a lot of these fights – especially on the undercard – the crowd goes for the underdog. He steals the heart of the fans. Mike certainly did that in his pro debut.
“I was amazed how many people came up to me after the fight and told me he has that ‘it’ that some people have. He took care of business. He was extremely, extremely composed. I was just so impressed.”
Kallen said she liked that Peralta acted like he’d been there before.
“He wasn’t nervous,” she said. “Sometimes in their pro debut guys are nervous. They don’t know how to pick their shots. You can tell they’re new. You didn’t see that with Mike. Not at all.”
Peralta said in one way the fight wasn’t much different than in his amateur days, when he knew nothing about his opponent and just showed up and fought. But instead of taking home a trophy for the win, Peralta got a paycheck.
“It was cool, different, but I just gave my money to my dad,” Peralta said. “I feel better as a pro than as an amateur. There’s no headgear, you have smaller gloves – I’m more comfortable. Being inside that ring, I felt calm…normal. I felt good in there.”
Peralta’s style can at this point be called intelligently aggressive. He said he looks to bring the action without being hit, create an opening and then let it fly.
“I don’t want to waste punches,” he said. “(Against Yacoubian) it was a combination of my speed and my power – mostly my speed. They were saying how he didn’t land anything. He had a good chin. He was tough. He was used to fighting at 145 pounds as a kick boxer.”
Peralta said he’s comfortable fighting at 132 – between junior lightweight and lightweight – and that he’s noticed a difference in his body since he’s turned pro.
“I’m a lot more cut,” he said. “I’m a lot stronger. I’ve got more muscle and I’m getting heavier. I’m running a lot more. Instead of losing fat, I’m losing water weight. I don’t judge it by how far I run, but how many minutes.”
Peralta does his roadwork in the hills of Mound House – 40-45 minutes most days and 50 minutes two or three days a week.
“We got that first fight off our mind,” Francisco Peralta said. “He’s working harder. Now that he’s stepped out there in the professionals, he knows what it takes to get better.”
Peralta said he doesn’t know much about Fujii, who was born in Japan and is fighting out of Fresno. Although boxrec.com doesn’t have it recorded, Miramontes said in his last fight Fujii dropped a four-round majority decision to Jaime Rodriguez on Sept. 8 in Modesto, Calif.
Peralta said he’s going to try and replicate some things he did well against Yacoubian – look for openings and exploit them – but do some new things as well.
“We hear this kid (Fujii) knows how to use the ring,” Peralta said. “He’s patient. I’m going to attack him at the right time and not get caught by punches.”
Kallen said she likes Peralta’s approach to an unknown opponent.
“It’s his second time out and he fights good guys,” she said. “I give him credit. He’s not looking for easy, fall-down guys. I love that about him. Some guys, no matter who you set up, they have a problem – ‘I don’t like this about him. I don’t like that about him.’ It (Peralta’s approach) comes from him having confidence in himself. He believes he can do it.”
Kallen also has confidence in Peralta, enough to where if he can emerge from this fight with Fujii without any cuts or taking a beating, he may get back in the ring for his next fight on Oct. 26, in Irvine.
“It’s not about money,” Peralta said of his mindset. “It’s about getting my record up, getting more fights. It’s about fighting and getting up there.”
In the final analysis, that’s the most tried and true way for a boxer to work his way down the path to success.