Cam O’Connell is hours away from stepping back into the ring and he couldn’t be more ready.
On Friday night he officially makes his comeback against Mario Perez (17-6-4) as the headlining fight for KO Boxing Promotions’ Adrenaline Rush at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton.
“It’s the calm before the storm,” said the Red Deer boxer and 2007 Ringside world champion. “We’re just staying relaxed and taking it easy and tomorrow we’ll make weight and that’s my only concern right now.”
The fight is at 135 pounds and will mark O’Connell’s (6-0-1) first fight since March 1, 2014 when he knocked out Reece Chapman in the first round. Not long after that fight he was found guilty of a drug trafficking charge from 2009 and spent nine months in the Bowden Institute. He was released on April 1 and is focused on turning his life around and being a positive influence in the life of area youths.
He got his first look at his opponent, the five-foot-six Perez — originally from Mexico but now fighting out of Toronto — on Wednesday afternoon.
O’Connell’s, 26, first impression of his competition was a little underwhelming, but he knows looks can be deceiving.
“He doesn’t look like a tough guy but we’ll see on Friday,” said O’Connell. “I know he’s going to be tough and he’s going to survive. I thought he was going to be cocky and in my face and he wasn’t, I was taken aback a little bit by that.”
Perez has a the ability to take a fight the distance, going at least six rounds 13 times in his professional career, winning six of them and drawing twice. This fight is scheduled for eight rounds and if it goes the distance will be the longest of O’Connell’s career. O’Connell has a reputation for ending fights early with five of his six wins coming by way of TKO. His punching power and aggressiveness in the ring is a big reason why he has had trouble finding a suitable opponent.
“I hope he’s tough, I hope we go the distance, but if I get the opportunity to stop him, I will,” said O’Connell. “I’m sure it will go into the later rounds just with his experience and when you’re this experienced no one goes down easy.”
O’Connell is coming well prepared in his corner with coach Doug Bolianatz, trainer Roman Rzepkowski and cut man Arash Usmanee.
Usmanee, 33, is well versed in the professional boxing game, the Red Deer product has a 21-2-1 record as a super featherweight but has not fought since June 13, 2014. He did, however, help prepare O’Connell for this fight, sparring with him regularly.
“He knows how to get through these big fights and he knows me better than anybody else so he’ll know how to push me, know what to say to get me going,” said O’Connell
O’Connell will have one last ace up his sleeve, knowing he will have a decided hometown advantage with a lot of friends and family making the short drive up Highway 2 to Edmonton for the fight.
“Everyone is coming up, I’m pretty sure Red Deer is going to be loud and known in the event centre,” he said.
O’Connell’s preparation on Friday is going to be simple, he’s going to sleep all day, maybe watch a couple of movies like Les Miserable and Lord of the Rings.
But no Rocky.
“I don’t want to fight like that,” said O’Connell.
However, if he can have a Rocky-type fight, in terms of drama and excitement, it would accelerate his rise back up the boxing ranks.
• Venezuela’s Samuel Vargas (20-2-1, 10 KOs) and Mexico’s Cesar Chavez (25-8-0, 13 KOs) will be the semi-main event.