By Karl Freitag
Photos: Ed Mulholland/Top Rank
Undefeated WBA/WBO 122-pound world champion Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux, returning to the ring fresh from his career-best victory over 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, and his opponent, former two-time world champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko hosted their final press conference Wednesday at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City for their HBO-televised clash on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom in Atlantic City.
Joining Rigondeaux and Agbeko were local favorite and undefeated junior middleweight contender Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia, knockout artist James Kirkland, three-time world title challenger Matthew Macklin, undefeated contender Lamar Russ and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum.
Guillermo Rigondeaux: I’m not a person who likes to be in front of cameras and talk. Training camp was great and the fight’s Saturday and I’m ready to go.
Joseph Agbeko: This is not amateur boxing where you punch one punch and you can get away with it for the whole round. This is professional boxing. You come into the ring to give the crowd what they want to see. So you go in, take a punch and punch and at the end of the day the crowd enjoys the fight. I want Rigondeaux to prove to me and to the whole boxing world that he’s just not a boxer but he can come in and fight, as well. I want Rigondeaux to come in as a fighter and let’s kill each other. Let’s punch and at the end of the day everybody’s gonna know that Rigondeaux has got the heart to come forward, not just to run in the ring…I know I’m gonna beat him!
Bob Arum: What I ask the press is put aside your ideas of what is an exciting fighter and what isn’t an exciting fighter, and concentrate on the skill level of the fighter. And then answer the question, “Who has more skills in boxing today than Guillermo Rigondeaux?” The answer, if you’re being honest, with the possible exception of Floyd Mayweather I don’t think there’s anybody around that has those skills.
Glen Tapia: People don’t know me that much yet. It takes a step up like this or a risk to become somebody, so I’m taking that chance and I’m gonna show you guys that I’m a great fighter, an elite fighter.
James Kirkland: This is a big opportunity to be back in the ring. I’ve been out 19 months. I’m well prepared, back with my original trainer Ann Wolfe…I know Glen Tapia is a crowd pleaser, a come-forward fighter, he does it all around the table but it takes a lot more than just doing that to beat James Kirkland.
Matthew Macklin: This is a must win fight for me. I believe I’m one of the best middleweights in the world…this is a big leap for him and he’s going to realize that pretty soon.
Lamar Russ: I’m ready to rumble. Macklin’s a great guy and he’s a good fighter so this will tell me where I’m at. I feel like I can win.