ATLANTIC CITY — Local boxers Antowyan Aikens and DeCarlo Perez have long been considered among the area’s top fighters.
On Saturday night, they will find out which one is higher in the unofficial rankings.
Aikens (13-4-1, 1 KO) and Perez (16-6-1, 5 KOs) will meet for the New Jersey super-middleweight title at Showboat Atlantic City Hotel.
“Some things have been said that I didn’t appreciate, but that doesn’t matter to me now,” Aikens said. “This fight is important because a win will put me right back in the swing of things. (Perez) is just another man in my way.”
Both fighters are looking to jumpstart their careers.
Aikens, 29, is 3-4 since 2016, though he has won two straight. Perez, 28, has dropped three of his last four and is returning to the ring after a 17-month layoff.
“I had been in back-to-back tough fights (a split-decision victory over Lanell Bellows and a third-round TKO loss to Ronald Gavril), and I just needed some time off to clean some things up, heal, recover and perfect my craft,” Perez said. “I never thought about giving up. I’m young, and I still have a lot of fight left.”
Both have other jobs but are passionate about their boxing careers.
Aikens, an Atlantic City native, drives a delivery truck for Aaron’s furniture store in Atlantic City.
He trained 10 weeks for this bout with trainers Vincent Jackson and Bill Johnson at the Atlantic City PAL gym.
Jackson made a pretty big commitment, leaving his home in Sicklerville, Camden County, in favor of a room at the Rex Motel on Tilton Road in Egg Harbor Township.
“It’s not the best situation, but it allows me to be closer to Atlantic City PAL and the Pleasantville Rec to work with fighters,” Jackson said. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get to where you want to be in life.”
Perez, who grew up in Atlantic City and lives in Egg Harbor Township, overcame a rough upbringing that included living at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission when he was 11 and 12.
He now works as a pharmacy technician at several AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center campuses while training at the Pleasantville Recreation Center with Will Alejandro.
“This fight will get me going again,” Perez said. “I’m like a juggernaut. Once I get on a roll, there’s no stopping me.”
Notes: Atlantic City middleweight Isaiah Hart, 26, will make his pro debut on the undercard against Philadelphia’s Dillon Kasprzak (0-1).
Hart, a 2010 Oakcrest High School graduate, was a three-sport standout (football, basketball, track) for the Falcons. He ran track at Virginia State University before pursuing a boxing career.
“This has been a long time coming,” Hart said. “I’m excited to finally fight.”
Doors to Showboat’s Bourbon Room will open at 6:30 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
Tickets are priced from $55 to $125 and are available at RSPBoxing.com and at Showboat.