PRIOR to his light welterweight title fight against the great Julio Cesar Chavez, Greg Haugen famously dismissed his opponent’s record as being padded with wins “against Tijuana Taxi drivers that my mom could whip.”
On Saturday night, in Anaheim, California, Argentine David Emanuel Peralta brought a renewed sense of pride to fighting cabbies worldwide as he upset a returning Robert Guerrero in a fight that most people assessed as a deplorable mismatch prior to it taking place.
“I didn’t think I was prepared to fight at this level,” said Peralta after his surprising win. “But I clearly showed that I am.”
Peralta, who called the sport of boxing his “true love,” contemplated retirement as recently as two months ago. He was driving a taxi to make ends meet when he received a call to fly up to the States to essentially play stepping stone in Robert Guerrero’s renewed title aspirations.
Rolling over was not in his plans, however, as Peralta outboxed and roughed up the veteran former multi-division champion over the course of twelve rounds. The final scores were split 115-113 for each fighter, and 116-112 for Peralta.
In the early rounds, Peralta was jumpy and noticeably awkward. Guerrero immediately took advantage of his rival’s stiffness, landing strong lefts and heavy jabs that were noticeably more powerful than the initial punches thrown by the Argentine.
The southpaw stance favored by Guerrero did not seem to faze Peralta, himself a righty and, as he approached the middle rounds, Peralta had already begun to find angles and a comfortable distance from which to unleash his attack on Guerrero.
As Guerrero began to tire, and Peralta began to realize that he belonged in that ring with the former champion, the underdog found a home for his stealthy hooks over Guerrero’s guard. The more he landed on Guerrero, the more relaxed and confident he became, a fact that translated into results in the second half of the fight.
In the ninth round, Peralta landed a couple of thudding right hands that almost sent Guerrero to the canvas, had the corner not stopped the fall. The official did not make an official ruling but the exchange riled up the crowd and elevated Peralta’s confidence. He bullied “The Ghost” right back against the ropes once more and stunned him with a powerful right hook as the round was coming to a close.
By that point in the match, the momentum had clearly shifted and the fight became Peralta’s to lose. He finished strong in the final round with a two punch combination that rocked the former champion and walked through a vicious left hand from Guerrero that landed square between his gloves but failed to slow him down. It was the perfect way for the underdog to show the world that he belonged at that level and on that stage.
“I am well prepared,” said Peralta prior to the fight. “I came here to fight. I am prepared to go the distance. I am going to throw a lot of punches, move around and be ready to get the decision. This is the biggest fight of my career. It is very important. I have to go out there and put on a great show.”
He accomplished what he set out to do and can now return to his native country of Argentina to celebrate, by far, the biggest victory of his career. With Saturday night’s performance, one can also expect Premier Boxing Champions to fly him back up to North America to prove that it wasn’t all just a fluke.