Growing up in Colombia, Yonnhy Perez would go as a chef on Halloween, “or maybe Dracula,” he said, “because where I’m from Halloween is called the Day of the Witch.” But, when the unbeaten, #1-ranked Perez (19-0, 14 KOs) of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., by way of Colombia, challenges IBF bantamweight champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko (27-1, 22 KOs) of Bronx, N.Y., by way of Accra, Ghana, this Saturday in the main event at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast), he says he’ll “come dressed as a world champion.”
He continued, “I’m very excited for this opportunity and that all the hard work I’ve put in has paid off. I’m not Vic Darchinyan (who Agbeko convincingly outpointed in his last title defense). I’m bigger, stronger and busier. I won’t load up for one shot. I’ll be throwing punches from the opening bell. Saturday is going to be my night.”
Countered Agbeko, who has predicted a knockout victory: “This isn’t a costume ball, it is a fight and Saturday I’m going to be the one leaving the ring with the belt. That’s Perez’ dream (to become world champion) and I respect that. All fighters should feel that way.
“I think Perez is a very good fighter who is good enough to one day become a world champion. But he’s not going to become IBF bantamweight champion. Not against me, not this Saturday, anyway. Perez is going to get a real dose of what reality is when he fights me.”
In Saturday’s co-feature, WBC #1-ranked Antonio DeMarco (22-1-1, 16 KOs), of Tijuana, Mex., meets former WBA lightweight titlist Jose Alfaro (23-4, 20 KOs), of Nicaragua, for the WBC 135-pound interim championship.
In a top undercard, non-televised bout, WBC No. 1-rated Ray “The Rainman” Austin (27-4-4, 17 KOs), of Cleveland, faces former world title challenger and No. 9-ranked DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson (26-5, 22 KOs), of Denver, in a WBC heavyweight elimination bout. The WBC USNBC belt will also be on the line in the 12-round match.
Tickets — all priced at $200 each, plus tax and fees — can be purchased at the Treasure Island box office or by calling (866) 712-9308 or (702) 894-7723. Don King Productions and Treasure Island will present the event. Agbeko-Perez and DeMarco-Alfaro are presented in association with Gary Shaw Productions.
What the fighters said Tuesday:
JOSEPH KING KONG AGBEKO
“I am not underestimating Perez. He is very strong and well-conditioned, and, at 19-0, he’s made himself into a very good fighter. I look forward to him giving me a good fight. I am not saying it will be easy, but I know I am going to enjoy myself this Saturday in the ring.
“It’s my destiny to continue to win all my fights, whether they are tough or easy, to prove I am the best fighter. I am definitely leaving that ring with a victory.
“This is my second fight in Las Vegas and the second time I’ve been on SHOWTIME. I made my pro debut in Las Vegas and love it. Las Vegas has the life, the lights and a boxing spirit and history. I love seeing my name and likeness on the marquee in front of Treasure Island. I’m up in lights on the famous Las Vegas Strip. It gives me motivation to do great things.
“Fighting on SHOWTIME again makes it all that much better.”
“My weight is perfect and I feel great. This is the biggest opportunity a fighter can get, but I am trying to treat it like it is another day at the office. Although, I know it is not.
“Agbeko talks a lot. He came to my gym for a workout last week and told everybody he was going to knock me out. He keeps saying that, and it gets a little unnerving after a while. So, let’s see what happens.
“This fight is so very important. I have a lot of responsibilities. I support a lot of my family and friends. So, this fight is not only for me. It is for them. I don’t plan to let anybody down.”
“This is a great opportunity for me and I thank my promoter, Gary Shaw, for making it happen. But, this is really a reward for all the hard work I’ve put in. Alfaro is a good, strong boxer and former world champion who likes to come forward. This might be my toughest fight, but it’s a good ‘styles’ fight for me. It is very important that I maintain focus.
“Fighting again on SHOWTIME is great. I get more noticed by people. It’s a little embarrassing when people recognize me. I don’t seek attention. But everything changes when you become world champion and that’s the goal. I want to be a good champion in and out of the ring.”
“This is the maximum opportunity and I plan to take advantage of it. I feel I am much more prepared for a fight like this than I was when I was champion.
“The first time around, I thought I could knock out anybody with one punch. I was world champ and did not think I’d ever get beat. When I lost the title, it was a very hard experience, one I’ll never forget but also one I learned a lot from. It was not a good experience, but I gained valuable experience from it.
“Now, I feel I’m back on track and ready to show my best. DeMarco is a good boxer but if I fight smart, use my brain and skills and take everything I’ve worked on in the gym into the ring, I’ll be OK. I know I can’t get wild and head-hunt. But style-wise, this is a very good fight for me. The timing of it is perfect.”
“I am very happy to be back in the heavyweight picture. There have been some speed bumps along the way and no one can say I’ve ever had it easy. But I don’t smoke or drink and I’ve never stopped working or believing.
“A victory here and I’ll be right there to challenge (WBC heavyweight champ) Vitali Klitschko.
“It’s really his brother, Wladimir (IBF/WBO titleholder), who I want. He got real lucky against me when we fought a few years ago. But I know he’ll come running after I beat Vitali. He’ll want to salvage the family pride.”