April 14, 2011

SHO Bantamweight Tournament Finals


Top rated bantamweights Abner Mares, Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko, Vic Darchinyan, and Yonnhy "Raging Bull" Perez are each looking forward to their upcoming tournament doubleheader, dubbed "Winner Take All", scheduled for April 23rd at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California. The four fighters took a break from their training on Wednesday to participate in a media conference call to discuss and promote their upcoming fights in the final round of the Showtime bantamweight tournament.

In the final round Main Event, Abner Mares (21-0-1 w/ 13 KO's) faces Joseph Agbeko (28-2 w/ 22 KO's) for the IBF Bantamweight title while Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1 w/ 27 KO's) faces Yonnhy Perez  (20-1-1 w/ 14 KO's) in a consolation fight for the vacant IBO Bantamweight belt.

The undefeated Mares secured his place in the final round of the tournament last December when he defeated Vic Darchinyan by split decision in the tournament semi-finals. Mares' final round opponent, Joseph Agbeko, reached the final round of the tournament by defeating Yonnhy Perez on the same night Mares got his close win over Darchinyan last year. Needless to say, these fighters are all very familiar with eachother.

Mares and Agbeko each hold a victory over Darchinyan. Perez holds a win over Agbeko and he held rising star and good friend Abner Mares to a draw in 2010.

Yonnhy "Raging Bull" Perez sounded confident, "As a former world champion, I have nothing to prove. I am prepared for however Darchinyan comes out, I am prepared for whatever he brings. No matter who wins between us, the promoter wins and the fans win." Perez believes a win over Darchinyan would put him a position to fight the tournament winner, a rematch with either Mares or Agbeko. Perez predicted his friend Abner Mares would emerge victorious over Joseph Agbeko and win the Showtime Bantamweight tournament, "I know how hard he worked. It's his time to taste being a world champion." Perez and Agbeko are no strangers in the ring, the two fighters having traded a pair of recent back to back fights, with King Kong Agbeko winning their last contest by unanimous decision, and thereby advancing to the tournament finals to face Mares.

Vic Darchinyan vowed to knock out his opponent, "After my last fight against Mares where the referee took me out of my game, I'm changing my style again to knock out everyone in front of me. I'm coming to destroy Yonnhy Perez. Boxing is about fighting, and I am coming to knock him out from the first round on. You will all see how powerful I am now at bantamweight." Asked to predict who he thinks will win the Main Event fight between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko, a somewhat agitated Vic Darchinyan said, "I don't care, I just want to fight the winner."

Ghana  native King Kong Agbeko also predicted victory, "my fight against Abner Mares is going to be be like Azumah Nelson and Jeff Fenech when they fought the second time in Australia."

That is certainly a very interesting prediction, one which could easily be interpreted as being Agbeko's way of saying he plans to not only beat Mares but annihilate him in front of his own fans. Boxing fans will of course recall the thorough beating that Ghanaian icon Azumah Nelson gave to Australian native Jeff Fenech in their 1992 rematch in front of Fenech's home crowd. Nelson dominated Fenech, stopping him in eight rounds in a fight that some say ruined Fenech as an elite fighter. It was a very satisfying victory for Nelson and his countryman Agbeko seems after a similar gratification at the expense of the young Abner Mares.   

Sounding confident, rising star Abner Mares even made a few predictions of his own. When asked to pick a winner in the Darchinyan-Perez consolation fight, the young Abner paused. It is well know that Mares and Perez are friends, despite the fact that they have squared off in the ring.

"You know what, I have no comment on that fight."

Really Abner? No comment?

"I just think it's gonna be a great fight because of their styles. Yonnhy's a guy that's there to be hit, he's forward. He doesn't like to back up. He is always moving forward and Darchinyan likes that. It plays both ways. If Darchinyan lands that left hand that he likes to land, right on the chin, I think Yonnhy might go down. Or it could come down to Yonnhy being stronger and Darchinyan not being able to take his pressure. It goes both ways so I don't have a winner there."

Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz?

"Another tough fight to predict. Tough fight for both of them. I have no winner."

Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley, have a winner on that one Abner?

"I like Pacquiao but I give Mosley a chance, so I go for Mosley on this one."

How about Abner Mares vs Joseph Agbeko?

"I have the advantage fighting here at home but I've never faced a fighter like Agbeko, he is a complete fighter, a warrior. He throws a lot of punches. He can box, he can brawl, he can do whatever he wants to do in the ring. It comes down to whatever style he brings, we'll just have to work with that and adapt to that style. This is a second chance for me to win a world title and I have to take advantage of that. I think it's going to be an exciting fight, and I like to give exciting fights."