By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0, 9KOs) retained his WBA and WBO super bantamweight titles with a lopsided but tedious twelve round unanimous decision victory over former two time world champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (29-5, 22 KOs), Saturday night at Adrian Phillips Ballroom in Boardwalk Hall In Atlantic City, New Jersey. What the main event lacked in action, the co-feature of made up for as super welterweight James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) came from the brink of defeat to outslug and stop formerly undefeated Glenn “Jersey Boy Tapia in the sixth round in what looked to be a fight of the year candidate. The eight bout card was promoted by Top Rank in association with Caesars Atlantic City, Caribe Promotions, SMS Entertainment, and Dibella Entertainment and Tecate.
The much anticipated co-feature of the evening pitted top ten ranked super welterweight sensation Glenn “Jersey Boy” Tapia against hard hitting James “Mandingo Warrior” Kirkland in a ten round contest that that went well beyond expectations.
Right from the opening bell, Tapia went on the attack with heavy hooks which had Kirkland backing up, much to the delight of the pro-Tapia crowd. Tapia continued to step in and out with heavy hooks up top and the damage showed as a big welt under Kirkland’s left eye began to grow. Tapia hand speed was too much for Kirkland to handle and he looked like a beaten fighter as returned to his corner.
Tapia changed his attacked and banged the body in the opening thirty seconds of the second round. Kirkland looked a mess as both eyes were swollen and the swelling on the cheek was bleeding.
The fight began to change though, as Tapia started to rest with his hands up against the ropes. Kirkland began to lay on him and bang the body. Tapia would move away but he looked tired. Kirkland forced him to the ropes and started to bang with heavy uppercuts including a straight right that wobbled Tapia. The Jersey boy said he wasn’t hurt and both fighters traded hellacious combinations. Tapia again covered on the ropes as Kirkland went to the ropes. Kirkland’s uppercuts and combinations up top were finding their mark. Tapia would not quit and went to the body with two hooks to the body. Kirkland looked rejuvenated and bombed away. Tapia returned fire with a big left as the round came to a close.
Kirkland now looked like the fresher fighter and he pushed Tapia to the ropes and dug away. Tapia continued to fight on and found room for a hard combination and a big right on the chin which gained the attention of “Mandingo.” Tapia started to pound away but a Kirkland counter right, stunned him. Each fighter took turns banging away at the round see sawed back and forth. Tapia gets out of a corner but Kirkland who gained the advantage and pounded away. Tapia tried to escape but Kirkland was landing the bombs
Kirkland took control in the fifth as he walked down the withering Tapia, but he would quit and tried to fight him off. Tapia actually pushed forward, but Kirkland hit him with and explosive uppercut and pushed him backward. Kirkland continued the throughout the third.
Tapia looked like a scene from one of the Rocky movies as he slowly rose in the corner but again went to work with 2 big combinations. Tapia looked tired but he started to take a stand and had Kirkland hurt. Tapia ran out of gas again and retreated to the rope. Kirkland banged more bombs inside. As the round progressed Tapia tried to come back but Kirkland was the more effective puncher.
Tapia looked tired and swollen going into the sixth. He immediately went into a corner and Kirkland banged away. Tapia had nothing left but he desperately swung away. Kirkland return fired and Tapia faltered, dropping his hands. Referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and stepped in grabbing Tapia. Kirkland was still punching and one last right hand landed flush on Tapia’s chin and he went limp. Smoger held him up before the corner brought in the chair. The official time of the TKO was 38 seconds of the sixth round.
“It was a rough and down fight,” said Kirkland afterwards. I told everyone it would be this way. One punch could turn the fight either way. He hit me with some good shots. I had to go through such hell in camp with Anne Wolf, but we’re a team. I came in with a game plan and stuck with it. I had to be a warrior in the ring tonight. I am now ready to fight anybody.”
The win moves James Kirkland to 32-1, 28 KOs while Glen Tapia falls to defeat for the first time and slips to 20-1, 12 KOs.
In the main event, Guillermo Rigondeaux looked to capitalize on his huge title fight unification victory over one of the top pound for pound fighters in Nonito Donaire. Standing in his way on Saturday night was former two time IBF world bantamweight champion, Joseph King KOsng Agbeko who was stepping up to super bantamweight to face the former two time Olympic Gold medalist.
Rigondeaux looked calm and ready in the opening round, as he mixed up single hard shots that included two uppercuts and right jabs from the southpaw stance. Agbeko was cautious and pressed the round with a hard hook underneath.
The superior hand speed from the two-time Olympian, started to gain a bit of traction as Rigo dug a left hook underneath that had the crowd gasping. Rigondeaux continued to pick his spots to pierce the defense of Agbeko with hard hooks underneath. Agbeko finally connected with two with two good lefts, but he had trouble finding his range with anything else.
Rounds three through five appeared to mirror each other as Rigondeaux wasted little energy, while mixing in strong jabs and mixing up his combinations.
The beating continued in round six as the champion was dissecting his opponent who, seemed content to safely jab from the outside with very few actually landing. Rigondeaux started to go to the body, but a straight right find his mark.
Agbeko looked befuddled, as he rarely a jabs or right hand. While Rigondeaux calmy belted single shots from distance. The crowd became restless by the tenth and started to boo from the lack of real action.
Rigondeaux continued to snap single shots well while Agbeko looked out classed in the final two forgetful rounds. In fact he averaged a horrible four punches connected each round
All three judges gave Guillermo Rigondeau every round by scores of 120-108 across the board.
Macklin outpoints Russ
Mathew “Mack the knife” Macklin (30-5, 20 KOs) bounced back into the winning ledger with a workmanlike unanimous decision victory over formerly undefeated Lamar Russ (14-1, 7KOs) The Irish middleweight looked to bounce back from a loss to Gennady Golovkin, and he did by using his superior stamina and steady combinations to where down the game Lamar Russ in the later rounds and capture the unanimous decision victory by scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 respectively.
Korobov stops Edwards in the 9th
Undefeated middleweight Matt Korobov had to survive a few hectic moments in the early going but his power allowed him two drop a game Derek Edwards twice, finishing the show with a straight right in the ninth round for the knockout victory.
Korobov, who is known for his strong combination and power, came out as advertised with powerful hooks as he battered Edwards around the ring. It looked like it was going to be stopped as Edwards was getting pasted in the corner, when a prayer like counter caught a wide open Korobov on the button. His legs buckled so he went on the retreat as Edwards went on the offensive with hopes of the upset. However KOsrobov was smart and clinched to survived the round
Each fighter was cautious in the second,but in the third Korobov regained control with solid combinations that sent Edwards to the canvas. Korobov seemed to squeeze out rounds four through six while playing it safe but his punches, were heavier and were forced his opponent down. In the seventh, Korobov stepped up the attack and dropped him on his back. Korobov continued to find his spots and had Edwards hurt again in the closing moments of the eighth. Korobov was battering him against the ropes in the closing seconds, but Edwards made it to the bell.
Edwards was again cautious in the ninth, but KOsrobov would not let him escape, finishing him with a big straight left. The shot sent Edwards hurtling backwards and onto the canvas. Referee Steve Smoger waived the fight off at 28 seconds of the ninth round.
Clary gets off canvas to remain undefeated
Toka Kahn Clary (9-0-0-1, 7KOs had to get off the canvas to squeeze out the close unanimous decision victory over formerly unbeaten super featherweight Ramsey Luna. Clary was sharp in the early going as he mixed up combinatons and movement wich had Luna on retreat.
Clary stepped up the pace late in the second, digging in with heavy combinations along with a few short hooks. Toka looked like he was on his way, capturing the first four rounds, but he got careless in the fifth and a counter right caught him solid. The damage was done and he fell into the ropes, forcing Eddie Cotton to give an eight count. Khan Clarey weathered the storm, but a Luna straight right on the button which put him on his back. Clary barely survived the round.
Each fighter went toe to toe in the fifth, but Clary had regained his composure and his quicker combinations took the round. Luna’s tank was almost empty in the sixth, and his punches had lost their steam, but he still pushed forward. Khan Clary was back to mixing up his combination but careful not to get caught with a counter. The fight went to the scorecards. All three judges saw it the same 57-55 for Toka Khan Clary ,who ups his record to 9-0, 1NC, 6KOs 5KOs, while Ramsey Luna loses for the first time as a professional, slipping to 11-1,5KOs.
Hart blows away Hendrix
Jessie “Hard Work” Hart (11-0, 10KOs) needed only a minute and twenty seconds dispose of Tyrell Hendrix (10-3-2-1NC, 3KOs) and score his tenth stoppage in eleven fights as a professional. Hendrix tried to rush Jessie in the opening seconds with a four punch combination, but the highly touted former amateur star was easily able to swivel and avoid the shots. Hart stepped back and quickly found his distance with sharp shots from the outside. Hart gained Hendrix’s attention with a short uppercut moments later, that forced him on the retreat. Tyrell Hendrix quickly tried to counter and slide out the back door, but a big right hand up top buckled his knees and he was forced to grab the ropes. Hendrix was hurt immediately. Hart jumped on Hendrix, raining down five unanswered shots, ending with a powerful right hand that again had Hendrix badly hurt and laying back against the ropes. Referee Steve Smoger stepped in and waived the bout off at the 1:20 mark of the opening round.
Rodriguez dominates Picou
Powerful super lightweight Julian Rodriguez (2-0, 1 KO) was taken the distance for the first time as professional in recording a solid four round unanimous decision victory over Ryan Picou (0-2). Rodriguez stunned in the second, but Picou was able to clinch and hold, before escaping out the back door. The heavy hands combinations consistently found their mark in the third and fourth rounds. Rodriguez was clearly the stronger fighter and the heavy combinations, but Picou did enough with left jabs and small combinations to keep the powerful super lightweight honest enough to go the distance. All three judges gave every round to Julian Rodriguez by scores of 40-36 across the board.
Mekhonsev impressive in debut
In the opening bout of the evening, 2008 Olympian Egor Mekhontsev used heavy body work to drop winless Peter Cajigas three times in the third round on his way to a solid tko victory. The last knockdown came from a solid right-left combo under the rib cage. Cajigas turned away and took a knee while holding his ribs. Highly esteemed Referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and waived the bout off at 2:35 seconds of the third round, Giving Mekhontsev the solid TKO victory. Peter Cajigas falls to 0-3-1.