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