PITTSBURGH – A lot is on the line for Pittsburgh super featherweight Matt “Sweet Child” Conway this Friday night (June 4) when he headlines the second installment of the popular “Battle of the Fairgrounds” series, presented by Gionta Management, at Washington County Fairgrounds in Washington, Pennsylvania.
Conway (18-2, 7 KOs), a former International Boxing Association (IBA) Intercontinental lightweight champion, takes on Colombian knockout specialist Jonathan “Popeye” Perez (38-26, 30 KOs), the former Colombian Super Bantamweight Champion, in the 8-round main event for the vacant IBA Intercontinental Super Featherweight Championship.
The 25-year-old Conway is in a crossroads fight having suffered the first losses of his pro career. He is coming off a win by way of a 6-round unanimous decision this past February against Vincent Jennings, but prior to that fight, Conway stepped up in class and lost to Francisco Esparza (9-1-1) and Gabriel Flores, Jr. (16-0), respectively, by way of 8-round split and unanimous decisions in Las Vegas on Top Rank-promoted cards against its fighters.
Conway, who has never been stopped as a professional, realizes that he needs to get back on the winning track and he’s thrilled to be headlining in his hometown.
“It’s kind of a crossroads fight for me because now, I don’t have much wiggle room and losing can’t be an option,” Conway said. “But losing those two fights pushed me to get better and taught me what I had to work on, and it’s not like I got blown out of those fights. I can still make my mark with quality opponents. I learned to be more patient, and I need to trust myself and know I’m there for a reason.
“Being pumped for this fight is an understatement, especially headlining in a title fight. People are going crazy because they wanted boxing back after the pandemic and we’re making it happen. My hometown fans always come to support me and with this fight in my backyard, I’m ready to put on a show.”
Battle-tested Perez, who has fought world champions Cristian Mijares and Abner Mares, has become a gatekeeper having fought rising prospects such as Toka Khan Clary, Carlos Videl, Nestor Bravo Velezquez, Karl Dargan, Luis Rosa, and many others during the past decade.
“I know my opponent is tough,” Conway added. “He has a lot of experience and is coming here to fight, but I don’t want this fight going more than six rounds. An impressive victory will let everyone know I’m in the running to make some noise, especially in the IBA. My name has a little buzz to it, but it’s not big enough.”
Unbeaten Pittsburgh super middleweight “Pretty” Richie Cantolina (6-0-1, 2 KOs) faces upset-minded Darryl “Dreamking” Bunting (4-9-2, 2 KOs) in the In the 6-round co-featured event. A former mixed-martial-arts fighter (12-8 as an amateur), Cantolina has successfully transitioned to boxing, evident by his pro record.
Ohio super featherweight Ryizeemmion “Humble Beast” Ford (4-1, 3 KOs) meets 21-fight veteran Christopher Nelson, of Louisville, in a 6-rouind match.
Puerto Rico-native Joel De La Paz (10-1, 6 KOs), a promising prospect out of Atlantic City (NJ), takes on Cleveland challenger Latiss Norman (4-6, 2 KOs) in a 6-round bout. De La Paz is riding a 3-fight win streak since he suffered his only pro loss in 2018 to 8-1 Naim Terbunja.
Also slated to fight on the under in 4-round bouts are Pittsburgh’s Deon Goodlow (1-3) and Ivan “The Hurricane” Hernandez (2-4-1, 2 KOs), of Buffalo, battle in a 4-round fight at a 152-pound catchweight, Buffalo lightweight Gerffred Ngayot (2-0, 1 KO) vs. TBA, and Ohio super featherweight Shawn Rall (0-4) vs. North Carolina’s Brandon Grimett (0-2).
Card subject to change.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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