Two of the hardest-hitting boxers in the world will meet when International Boxing Federation bantamweight champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko defends his crown against two-division world champion Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, on July 11 and on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The championship is scheduled for 12 rounds. The televised co-feature will showcase two world-ranked No. 4 contenders when emerging lightweight Antonio DeMarco (20-1, 14 KOs), from Tijuana, Mexico, meets Anges “Baby Face” Adjaho (25-1, 14 KOs), from Benin, Africa, now fighting out of Geneva, N.Y. Tickets priced at $75, $40 and $25 and $10 (with a limited number of golden circle seats available at $200) go on sale Thursday (June 18) at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com or BankAtlantic Center box office.
The event is promoted by Don King Productions in association with BankAtlantic Center. Agbeko vs. Darchinyan and DeMarco vs. Adjaho are co-promoted with Gary Shaw Productions.
Both main event fighters possess eye-popping knockout percentages. Agbeko (26-1, 22 KOs) from Accra, Ghana, now fighting out of Bronx, N.Y., has knocked out over 81 percent of his opponents with Darchinyan (32-1, 26 KOs), from Sydney, Australia, by way of Armenia, right behind him at 76 percent.
The Aussie bomber is a four-time world champion at flyweight and super flyweight. He will leave his IBF, WBC and WBA titles at 115 pounds behind to move up to the 118-pound limit to face the champion. If victorious, Darchinyan will become a three-division world champion.
The Ghanaian powerhouse gave a gritty performance to win his world title, scoring a seventh-round technical knockout over Luis “El Demoledor” Perez—a tough-as-nails Nicaraguan who had been champion since 2003—at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 29, 2007.
“I’ve seen stronger fighters than Darchinyan,”Agbeko said defiantly. “I respect him for what he has accomplished but I don’t think he has the true heart to beat me and take my punches.
“This fight will be the genesis of King Kong and the defining moment of why my parents named me this at birth. This is my destiny.”
The brash Darchinyan sees a different outcome.
“Agbeko may have seen stronger fighters than me but I guarantee you he has never fought any of them,” Darchinyan retorted. “The only thing he and King Kong have in common is they are both works of fiction. After I’m through with him he’ll have to change his name to King Con.”
Both fighters only have one loss each. Agbeko lost his second professional fight and has not lost since—24 wins in a row—while Darchinyan was shocked by flyweight Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire on July 7, 2007, in Bridgeport, Conn., who landed a fight-changing left hook in round five that lead to a technical knockout.
The loss came in Darchinyan’s first appearance after a traumatic 12th-round stoppage of Victor Burgos on March 3, 2007, at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Darchinyan had been dominant in the contest but was taken by surprise when Burgos was rushed to a nearby hospital after the match suffering from a brain injury. Heroic efforts by doctors saved Burgos’s life, but he will never box again.
Darchinyan moved up to super flyweight, winning the IBF title by fifth-round knockout over Dimitri Kirilov on Aug. 2. He added the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council 115-pound crowns with a thrilling knockout over favored Cristian Mijares in round nine on Nov. 1 in Carson, Calif.
In his last appearance, Darchinyan was yet again dominant in a highly anticipated match against Mexican strongman Jorge Arce at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 7. Clearly the best fighter in the world at 115 pounds, Darchinyan pounded Arce for 11 rounds until the referee halted the beating.
Although a champion himself, King Kong will be in the toughest challenge of his career against the Raging Bull, who is currently listed near the top of the top pound-for-pound best boxer lists.
The co-feature is a pivotal matchup for DeMarco, 23, and Adjaho, 32, with ramifications for the entire lightweight division. Both are near the top of the world rankings with only one career loss each and an identical number of knockouts at 14.
DeMarco, ranked No. 4 by the WBA, is the younger, more visible contender with multiple television appearances and hasn’t lost in his last 14 fights. While this will be Adjaho’s first television appearance in the United States, he grew up in boxing gyms as his father was a national boxing coach in Benin, Africa.
A child prodigy who compiled a stellar amateur record of 164-3, Adjaho, ranked No. 4 by the IBF, claims to have never been knocked down as an amateur or as a professional. Adjaho disputes his lone loss, a split decision, which came against Miguel Acosta in 2007 even though Acosta hit the deck twice during the fight.
In domestically non-televised action, fans at BankAtlantic Center will be treated to a full undercard highlighted by an important IBF elimination bout (for No. 1 and mandatory challenger) between former cruiserweight world champions Steve “USS” Cunningham (21-2, 11 KOs), from Philadelphia, and Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite (23-3, 19 KOs), from Guyana now fighting out of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cunningham lost his IBF cruiserweight title at the hands of former light heavyweight world champion Tomasz Adamek in one of last year’s most memorable fights. In fact, the Boxing Writers Association of America designated the fight as one of the five nominees for “Fight of the Year” in 2008. The match took place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Dec. 11.
Cunningham suffered three early knockdowns from the heavy-handed Adamek, but many felt he should have been declared the victor after 12 rounds, but Adamek won the split decision.
Braithwaite won the WBC cruiserweight title in 2002 by defeating Vincenzo Cantatore, and he successfully defended that title three times before suffering a decision loss to Jean-Marc Mormeck in 2005.
Big Truck has also tangled with the likes of future world champions Guillermo Jones and Enzo Maccaranelli in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Always dangerous, Braithwaite would like nothing more than to earn another shot at a world title.
Also appearing will be undefeated and rising Cuban prospect Angelo “La Cobra” Santana (5-0, 4 KOs).