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Art Hovhannisyan loses decision against Alejandro Perez

Local fighter defeated by former sparring partner in battle for vacant NABO 130-pound title.

February 22, 2013|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

CABAZON — With his greatest opportunity there for the taking, for the first time in his career, Art "Lionheart" Hovhannisyan came up short.

Faced with a familiar foe in former sparring partner Alejandro Perez, Hovhannisyan came up on the losing end of a close unanimous decision Friday night at the Morongo Casino in ‘Shobox’s’ junior welterweight main event on Showtime, with the judges scoring it 96-93 twice and 95-94. The News-Press scored it 95-94 for Perez.

The bout was contested for the vacant North American Boxing Organization 130-pound title and went to Perez (16-3-1, 11 knockouts), who, after sparring Hovhannisyan in the past to the tune of roughly 80 rounds, upset the local fighter, handing him the first loss of his career. Hovhannisyan, 31, who was looking for a win Friday to boost him into contender status for a legitimate world title, fell to 15-0-2 with eight knockouts.

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Just as both fighters promised in the lead-up to the bout, it was an exciting fight, concluding with a thrilling finish.

Hovhannisyan, a Glendale resident who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club under Edmond Tarverdyan, walked to the center of the ring for the 10th round with his vocal fans standing and cheering, just as the supporters for Perez, who hails from Salinas and trains at the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, made noise for their charge.

A big left hook over the top for Perez was the first big blow to land, but not the last. Hohvannisyan landed a straight right and then a counter left hook, but Perez answered the latter with a counter right that buckled Hovhannisyan. Perez followed with an attack that had worked well for much of the fight as he landed rights and lefts to Hovhannisyan’s body. But the exclamation point came as Hovhannisyan implored Perez to meet him in the middle of the ring and the two went toe to toe wildly until the bell rang with the crowd on its feet and cheering as both combatants raised their hands.

The News-Press had the fight even, thanks in large part due to a low-blow point deduction against Perez in the fifth round.

The fight began tentatively with both fighters slow to engage in the opening round. Eventually, a pair of good left hooks and later a stinging right to the body delivered by Hovhannisyan were enough to take the stanza on the News-Press’ card.

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