Joseph Agbeko wants his title back. Vic Darchinyan wants to show he’s the best. Abner Mares sees himself as a champion for the people. And Yonnhy Perez has the prize they all want.
Four of the world’s top bantamweight fighters compete in a tournament that starts today, a mix of youth and experience showcasing fighters who have a history with one another and of staging exciting bouts.
Colombia’s Perez, 20-0 with one drawn and 14 knockouts, defends his International Boxing Federation title against Ghana’s former world champion Agbeko, 27-2 with 22 knockouts.
The other semi-final sends Australian ex-champion Darchinyan, 35-2 with one draw and 27 knockouts, against Mexico’s unbeaten Mares, 20-0 with one drawn and 13 knockouts.
Perez took a unanimous 12-round decision over Agbeko for the title last year.
“This is going to be a great war, just like the first one was,” Perez said. “I know how good of a fighter Agbeko is, I saw and felt him in the ring. I know he is prepared technically and he will try to take the belt. But I’ve prepared myself to keep the belt. No one will take it away from me,” he said.
Agbeko is out for revenge.
“I was the champion and I lost it to Yonnhy Perez,” the African said. “I have really been working hard for this fight. It’s the fight of my life, the fight of my career. I have to win this fight to become a champion again. I believe I am going to win.”
In his only fight since beating Agbeko, Perez settled for a draw with Mares last May in Los Angeles.
“The four-man tournament is great,” Mares said. “There’s no ducking any fighters. You’re fighting the best, no matter what. You don’t pick fighters in a tournament. This is what people want.”
Darchinyan, 34, lost a title bout last year to Agbeko and plans to use experience as an advantage to set himself up for another chance at the crown.
“I’m more controlled and ready for Mares,” Darchinyan said. “I’ve fought in 14 world title fights. He has fought in one. I’m going to out-school him badly and prove to the whole world that I’m too good for anyone in this division.”
KHAN V MAIDANA
AFP, LAS VEGAS
Britain’s Amir Khan plans to wake up US boxing fans to his skills on his Las Vegas debut today by turning out the lights on Marcos Maidana’s title dreams.
Khan will defend his World Boxing Association super-lightweight title against the Argentine in what is expected to be the first step toward unifying titles in the division.
Khan, 23-1 with 17 knockouts, will face Maidana, 29-1 with 27 knockouts, for the right to tackle the winner of next month’s fight between unbeaten US fighters Devon Alexander, 21-0 with 13 knockouts, and Tim Bradley, 26-0 with 11 knockouts.
Three titles could be at stake when the final showdown comes later next year, but on his way to getting there, Khan wants to promote his own reputation among US fight fans.
“When I win this fight convincingly, people will realize how good Amir Khan is,” said Khan, who turned 24 on Wednesday.
Maidana has retired 22 of his 27 foes in three rounds or less.
He has four victories since losing his first world title fight last year to Andre Kotelnik.