Top Rank, looking to beef up its roster because of the numerous dates it has under its seven-year deal with ESPN, announced Friday that it has signed four fighters, including former junior featherweight world titlist Jonathan Guzman.
“All of these guys will fight before the end of the year and a lot more in 2019,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said. “They are all in weight classes we are interested in and they are all solid fighters.”
The biggest name is Guzman (22-1, 22 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, who has not fought since losing his 122-pound world title by unanimous decision to Yukinori Oguni in Japan in December 2016. Guzman won a vacant belt in July 2016 by knocking out Shingo Wake in the 11th round, also in Japan, before losing it in his first defense. Moretti said Guzman will fight in either the junior featherweight or featherweight division. He could be a potential opponent for junior featherweight world titlist Isaac Dogboe or featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez.
“I am excited and fortunate to be given this opportunity by Top Rank,” Guzman said. “This will give me better opportunities in the boxing world. I want to get back to the championship level, and I know Top Rank can get me there.”
Also signing with Top Rank are middleweight Tyler Howard (15-0, 10 KOs), junior welterweight Michael Perez (25-2-2, 11 KOs) and lightweight Eric Puente (0-0).
Howard, 24, of Crossville, Tennessee, has fought mostly as a super middleweight but will drop down in weight to middleweight. He has not yet faced a notable opponent. “Signing with the premier promotional company in the sport of boxing is a huge accomplishment for my team and I,” Howard said. “I trust that my career is in great hands with my manager (Tim Van Newhouse) and Top Rank. I know my team will present me with many opportunities to catapult my career into world contention status.”
Perez, 28, of Newark, New Jersey, who has not boxed since April 2017, has had several televised fights and faced tough opposition at lightweight and junior welterweight but lost to his two best opponents by sixth-round knockout — former lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. in 2012 and Petr Petrov in lightweight title-elimination bout in 2016. Perez is coming off a 10-round, split-decision victory against Marcelino Lopez.
“I have always respected the way they treat their fighters,” Perez said of Top Rank. “I look forward to adding value and excitement to their already amazing shows.”
Puente, 19, who was born in Mexico and fights out of Vista, California, won a gold medal at the 2016 USA Boxing Youth Championships at 132 pounds. He is turning pro under the management of David McWater’s Split-T Management, which also represents fighters such as junior welterweight contender Ivan Baranchyk and top prospects Teofimo Lopez, a lightweight, and junior middleweight Charles Conwell, both 2016 Olympians.
“This is an exciting chapter in my life, and I want to make my family and fans happy and hopefully one day become world champion,” said Puente, who likely would have been a contender to make the 2020 Olympic team had he remained amateur. “I know I have the very best promotional company behind me.
“Boxing is everything to me. I live, eat and sleep boxing 24/7. Boxing is always on my mind. When the boxing world sees me fight, they will see an old-school warrior that will do everything he can to come out victorious. I take a lot from all the great fighters of the past like Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Sugar Ray Leonard, and put into me, Eric Puente, future superstar in boxing.”