Feature Story

Bantam Tourney Presser

Photos by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

The promoters and fighters involved with The Bantamweight Tournament: Winner Takes All – a two-stage, single-elimination tournament of 118-pounders – took center stage on Thursday in the final press conference to discuss the two Semifinal bouts set to take place on Saturday, Dec. 11, LIVE on SHOWTIME® at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.

In the opening bout, undefeated, world-ranked rising star Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs), of Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, will face two-division world champion Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, by way of Armenia.

Then, former IBF 118-pound champ Joseph King Kong Agbeko (27-2, 22 KOs), of Bronx, N.Y., by way of Ghana, Africa, will try to earn back the title from the man that won it from him, current IBF champ Yonnhy “El Colombiano” Perez (20-0-1, 14 KOs), of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., by way of Colombia.

With a win over Darchinyan, Mares could earn a rematch against Perez, who he fought to a disputed majority draw last May 22, or face the hard-hitting Agbeko. If Darchinyan wins his semifinal bout, he could face the last man to beat him, Agbeko, who won a close, unanimous decision in July 2009.

Highlights of what the fighters had to say on Thursday at the final press conference:

Gary Shaw, Vic Darchinyan’s Promoter:

“Thanks to the fighters. Thanks to SHOWTIME … actually they should be thanking us for bringing them two great fights and four great fighters.

“The television crowd will be rewarded on Saturday. I wish I didn’t have any fighters in the ring so I could just watch on my couch and enjoy.”

Joseph Agbeko:

“This tournament is going to be the best because the bantamweight division is the most exciting.

I expect a war against Perez. With bantamweights, there are always lots of explosions.”

Gary Shaw:

“Joseph, I have a surprise for you. The Washington state commission agreed to it. Since you’re known for the head butts, I am going to have Perez and Vic fight you in a tag-team match. When you head butt one of them, we’ll tag in the other while the first guy gets sutured up.”

Joseph Agbeko:

“About head butts, styles make head butts. I guess they get cut and not me because I have the harder head.

Saturday night, I’ll put an end to any excuses. After Saturday, I think everyone will see who is the favorite of this tournament.”

Abner Mares:

“I know every boxer says that they just had the best camp of their life but this really has been a tremendous camp for me. I’m ready. I know I’m ready.

“As bantamweights, we are fighters known to throw a lot of punches. We’re known for making fights exciting.”

Vic Darchinyan:

“Mares is good. I’ve seen his fights. He’s strong. He’s fast. But on the night of the fight, I’ll slow him. I’ll take away his strengths. You will see a new Vic Darchinyan, hungry and motivated like a
young fighter.

“I go for the knockout. It’s exciting. It’s what people want to see. It’s simple.”

Yonnhy Perez:

“I have to thank SHOWTIME for making this tournament a reality. This is very important because we know that the winner of this tournament will be a very significant fighter.

“There’s only one thing I’m waiting for: the bell on Saturday night.”

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