Lenier Pero (left) and Viktor Faust (right) at the weigh-in. Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Lenier Pero can look at the success of recent heavyweights from Cuba, including Luis Ortiz and Frank Sanchez, for motivation and guidance. Instead, he wants to create his own path towards success.
The unbeaten Pero has been successful thus far, hoping to move into contender status with each victory.
Pero will face Viktor Faust Saturday night in an intriguing fight between unbeaten prospects at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The 10-round bout will open the three-bout Showtime Championship Boxing telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
At Friday’s weigh-in, Pero weighed in at 242.8 pounds. Faust weighed 234 pounds.
The southpaw Pero (8-0, 5 knockouts), who is originally from Camaguey, Cuba and now resides in Miami, Florida, has fought once on Showtime programming. That fight took place on January 1 of last year, defeating Geovany Bruzon by unanimous decision in a clash of unbeaten prospects.
In his last bout on August 20, Pero notched a vicious knockout victory over Joel Caudle. The 30-year has demonstrated more power and aggression in recent fights, having stopped four of his last five opponents.
Pero will face another unbeaten heavyweight in Faust (11-0, 7 KOs), who also fought on that January 1 card, overcoming two knockdowns to stop Iago Kiladze in the second round. Faust has also displayed an aggressive style, but Pero is confident he is the better overall fighter who can adjust to any style in the ring.
“I have the advantage of being the more-complete fighter than him,” Pero told The Ring Thursday afternoon. “I can fight from distance and can fight on the inside. I’ve been on the fast track early on in my career, having fought eight and 10 rounds. I have also fought on Showtime as well. I do not have any nerves and I won’t be nervous going into the fight on Saturday.”
Pero has faced obstacles outside the ring, including an attempt to secure a visa to enter and live in the United States. It was a long road that began when Pero attempted to seek asylum at the Argentine embassy in Havana. When word broke out that Pero attempted to seek asylum, gyms throughout the country banned him, leaving him to train himself along with the help of a friend.
Through luck, his application for asylum was expedited quicker than normal, allowing him to leave Cuba and enter Argentina. Pero would fight his first three bouts in Germany, and his following bouts in Argentina and Colombia, respectively, before making his U.S. debut against Bruzon the previous January.
Pero is grateful for the people that helped him achieve his dream of coming to the United States.
“It was incredible to have people by my side,” said Pero, who is represented by Shane Shapiro. “I was able to see how Yordenis Ugas made a new life for himself in the United States. I look up to Luis Ortiz, but I felt it was best to do what I did. Waiting almost three years to enter Argentina, then fighting in the United States, then fighting on Showtime, it’s a long road, but I’m glad I was able to realize my dream.”
With a new trainer in Bob Santos, Pero feels he has become a more-complete fighter.
Pero does not take anything for granted. As long as Pero wins, and does so impressively, he can count on fighting again on Showtime programming.
“I’m not arrogant,” said Pero, who has sparred the likes of Johnnie Rice. “I am humble. I’m managed well and I have a great trainer in Bob Santos.
“I’ve handled pressure well and have been able to overcome obstacles in my life. I look at life and take it one fight at a time. So I look at the fight against Faust as one more win to then look ahead. I continue to grow as a fighter and look to get better with each outing.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]