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LOS ANGELES – Four of the best bantamweights in the world participated in a press conference to formally announce the eagerly awaited The Bantamweight Tournament Final: Winner Takes All on Saturday, April 23 LIVE on SHOWTIME® (10:30 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.
Joseph King Kong Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs), of Accra, Ghana, will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight world championship against undefeated rising star Abner Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs), of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, who defends his WBC Silver bantamweight championship in the tournament final.
In what will be a hotly contested co-feature, former two-division world champion Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, by way of Vanadzok, Armenia, and former IBF bantamweight world champion Yonnhy “El Colombiano” Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs), of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., by way of Cartagena, Colombia, will clash in the tournament consolation bout.
Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, are available online at Ticketmaster.com, and via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines at (800) 745-3000. Tickets are also available at STAPLES Center Box Office.
Agbeko earned a berth in the final by dealing Perez his first career loss via a unanimous 12-round decision in the tournament semifinals last Dec. 11 in Tacoma, Wash..
Earlier in the night, Mares, came from behind in dramatic fashion to reach the tournament final by winning a 12-round split decision over former two-division world champ Darchinyan in a bloody affair.
The Bantamweight Tournament Final: Winner Takes All is promoted by Don King Productions, Gary Shaw Productions, Golden Boy Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions. An exciting undercard will be announced shortly.
See below for what the fighters and promoters had to say on Tuesday:
JOSEPH KING KONG AGBEKO:
“Boxing is one of the most beautiful sports in the world and this night of two great fights gives us the opportunity to show just how beautiful it is once again. Abner Mares is a great fighter and someone I respect outside of the ring. He better be ready to answer for what I’ve got for him come April 23.
“I was coming off a loss and came out the winner in the rematch (against Perez). Everything went exactly as planned. Abner Mares is a very different fighter compared to Perez and Darchinyan. Abner Mares is a much more technical fighter. We are going to come out with a style totally different than what we did against Vic and Yonnhy.
“We’re not worried about where this fight is being held. People say he has an advantage because it’s his hometown but we will fight him anywhere.”
“I will come to fight on April 23 against Abner Mares. I know it’s going to be a great fight and the best fight of the night.”
“When I had my detached retina everyone told me my career was over. But God has given me the chance to continue doing what I do. And now I’m here and I’ve made it to the final. I thank God and I’m ready to fight again on April 23, the same night as three of the best bantamweights in the world.
“I’m really excited to be here and I thank SHOWTIME for continuing to make these great fights. I am in the final with Agbeko but Darchinyan and Yonnhy is another great fight. You can’t even say that it’s for third place. It’s just another great fight for the audience. This is what the boxing fans deserve. We fight anyone at anytime and that’s what we want: to make the people happy.
“Joseph King Kong Agbeko has never seen a more complete fighter like me. I know we’re both coming. I saw his last fight against Yonnhy and he came in with a good game plan and he beat Yonnhy.
“I expect a great fight against Agbeko, who is just a great guy outside the ring. He’s always happy and smiling. I know inside the ring he calls himself King Kong and he believes he actually becomes King Kong inside the ring.
“My family and friends weren’t able to make it to Tacoma but now they will get the opportunity to see me fight in my hometown. I’m excited to fight in front of my friends and family because it gives me extra motivation to win.”
“I took a lot of low blows in my last fight. I was upset and very disturbed about what happened. But sometimes that’s boxing. I want a clean fight this time.
“This time I’m going to show that once I knock a fighter down I am coming to finish him. In my last fight I had (Mares) knocked down in the second round but I didn’t finish him. The same thing will not happen again. I gave him too much time to recover and it didn’t happen for me. He threw some low blows and won the fight. So there’s no more playing around. This time it’s just go for the knockout.
“It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past. I am totally focused on my next fight.
“Agbeko was the better fighter that night (on Dec. 11) and there’s nothing more to it. The only thing that really worries me about Vic Darchinyan is that he’s a southpaw. His power does not bother me. You can say that he hits hard but we are fighters and we all hit hard. He dropped Mares down within the first few rounds, but why didn’t he finish him? If I have a guy down I’m going to try and finish. I just have to be weary of what he does in the first few rounds.
“What happened in my last fight will never happen again and we are making the necessary adjustments to make sure of that over the next few weeks.
“Whoever can make the most adjustments will win the fight on April 23. I would tell my fans that everyone should show up on that night. It’s a grand finale and both fights will be great. I hope all the networks learn from the example SHOWTIME is setting by giving all the fans these great fights over and over again.”
ALAN HOPPER (For Don King Productions):
“Joseph had some unfinished business after his first fight with Perez and he redeemed himself in the rematch in the semifinals. Now he’s in the final and ready to make his claim as the best bantamweight in the world.
“These fighters were wonderful in December and they’re going to be great in April.
“Abner, I wouldn’t want to be you right now. You’re going in the ring with one of the great champions of Ghana and he’s on a mission to become the best bantamweight in the world.”
OSCAR DE LA HOYA:
“This goes to show you how boxing can come together and put together these wonderful fights. The fans are the winners. Ken Hershman has had these brilliant ideas of putting these tournaments together and making sure there is excitement in boxing for the fans.
“Whoever wins this tournament is the man; the best bantamweight in the world.
“Abner is not only a great champion inside the ring he’s also a great human outside the ring. He’s a true champion not only to the Mexican people but to his in Los Angeles.”
“These are four of the best at 118 pounds because they are willing to fight one another.
“I give credit to Abner for beating Vic. I hope Oscar and Abner give us another chance down the road because that’s what we would do for them.
“Perez wasn’t there mentally or physically in the first fight. I think you’ll see a different Yonnhy Perez in this fight, unfortunately it’s against my other fighter, Vic Darchinyan.
“This is what makes boxing great – the best willing to fight the best.
“People don’t think Vic can bring his power up to 118 pounds – I disagree.”
“You’re going to see the future of these fighters at stake on April 23.
“The best four fighters in the world at 118 pounds will fight on April 23. You’ll see Yonnhy Perez, who we think is the best bantamweight in the world, walk away with a win and a belt at Nokia Theatre.”
For more information, visit www.donking.com, www.garyshawproductions.com, www.goldenboypromotions.com, www.thompsonboxing.com, become a friend on Facebook www.facebook.com/GoldenBoyBoxing or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/GaryShawBoxing, www.twitter.com/GoldenBoyBoxing or www.twitter.com/abnermares00.
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