In a match-up of two fringe 168-pound contenders, J’Leon Love and Marco Antonio Periban didn’t distinguish themselves but managed to turn a tepid start into a trip down the rapids in the middle before Love pulled away for the unanimous decision victory.
It was the opening bout of the Showtime Pay-Per-view card Saturday night headlined by Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana, with Love on the card in large measure because he’s promoted by Mayweather himself. Periban had lost a competitive fight against Sakio Bika and taken prospect Badou Jack to a draw, while Love was still rebounding from a dalliance with a banned substance that derailed his rise (if the close battle with undersized Gabriel Rosado hadn’t done enough to leave him skateboarding off said rails).
The 1st round was evenly contended, with Periban’s volume equaling Love’s precision. Love took the next round easily owing to Periban being troubled by a busted nose at the end of the 1st, but Periban came out attacking in the 3rd and won it. Love had the fight going his way again in the 4th thanks to his superior movement and Periban perhaps being tired.
The 5th was a dramatic turn in the fight, almost a decisive one. Periban hurt Love with a right and then kept the pressure on, with referee Jay Nady seeming to go in to stop the fight before reconsidering. Periban kept his momentum going after the break, dropping Love and then hitting him several times while he was on his knee, with Nady absurdly far away from the action to prevent this — and when he finally interjected himself, he literally threw Periban to the ground.
From the exciting 5th sprung the exciting 6th, with Love foolishly deciding to trade and getting the better of it. And the cut he opened over Periban’s left eye sucked most of the life out of Periban thereafter. Between rounds he appeared increasingly despondent, although he rallied to win the 10th. There was no real argument for Periban to win the bout, so the scorecards of 95-93, 97-92 and 96-93 were all in the approximate ballpark.
Periban’s skittishness over his blood diminishes his stock as a fringe contender coming off a competitive loss. Love being hurt then bouncing back only spoke modestly well of him, because he probably shouldn’t have danced so closely with a TKO. But he’s got the connections, and some skill and heart, to make it so it doesn’t take Mayweather semi-nepotism to justify him getting another solid fight after this one.