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Articles of 2010

EVIL VIC: “This Fight Is A Mismatch. I Am Just Too Good For Him”



“Our No. 1 Thing Is To Try To Wear Down Our Opponents –YONNHY PEREZ

“I’m Sure This Time He’ll Take Care Of His Head – JOSEPH AGBEKO

“This Fight Is A Mismatch. I Am Just Too Good For Him – VIC DARCHINYAN

“Speed Beats Power. We’ll Prove That On Dec. 11 – ABNER MARES

NEW YORK (Dec. 8, 2010) — Four of the world’s most talented bantamweights take center stage this Saturday, Dec. 11, LIVE on SHOWTIME® at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) in the highly anticipated The Bantamweight Tournament: Winner Takes All . The two-stage, single-elimination tournament of world-class 118-pounders begins with two Semifinal bouts at the 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 victory over the hard-hitting Darchinyan, Mares could earn a rematch against Perez, who he fought to a disputed majority draw last May 22 on SHOWTIME, or face the hard-hitting Agbeko. If Darchinyan triumphs in his semifinal bout, he could face the last man to beat him, Agbeko, who won a close, unanimous decision in July 2009 on SHOWTIME.

Here are some thoughts gathered during each fighter’s camps and what they think about their opponents just days away from the tournament:


The 31-yeard-old Perez trained at the Santa Fe Springs Activity Center in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., sparring more than 100 rounds with 118 to 122 pounders during an eight-week camp.

Perez was successful when he challenged Agbeko for the IBF title in October 2009 on SHOWTIME, so the unbeaten, versatile boxer doesn’t feel the need to switch up his game plan.

“My style really doesn’t change, Perez said. “What my corner tells me to focus on is my output of punches. Our No. 1 thing is to try to wear down our opponents.

“And we’ve seen some other things against Agbeko that I think we can take advantage of.

Though he is confident he will successfully retain his title, Perez isn’t looking ahead to a possible rematch with Mares or a showdown with Darchinyan.

“It doesn’t matter to me who I fight, Perez said. “I’m just concentrating on this fight. I have to win that before I think about the next one. Whoever it is, we’ll be prepared. My main goal is to come out of the tournament the same way I entered it — as a world champ.


Agbeko recently wrapped up a 10-week training camp at John’s Gym in the Bronx. The hard-hitting African sparred an average of 14 rounds a day, three or four times a week, mostly facing younger and aggressive super bantamweights and featherweights.

Agbeko, who wants to win back his title for his native Ghana, knows he needed to make some changes to his approach after losing the crown to Perez.

“There will be a lot of differences, Agbeko said. “I’m going to be ready for him. I lost the last one so I can’t go in with the same game plan. I needed to make some changes and you’ll see them in the ring.

While standing one-and-a-half inches shorter and spotting the defending belt-holder two-and-a-half inches in reach, the 30-year-old contends that Perez’s size wasn’t a difference maker in their first fight.

“It wasn’t a problem at all, Agbeko said. “When he fights, he brings his head in — that was the problem for me. I’m sure this time he’ll take care of his head and won’t bring it in.

One thing Agbeko isn’t doing is looking forward to the tournament finals.

“Right now, the main issue for me is Yonnhy Perez, he said. “I’m concentrating on Yonnhy. So after the fight, when I got my belt back, I’ll think about the next opponent. But right now all my concentration is on Yonnhy Perez and winning my belt.


The 34-year-old Darchinyan just wrapped up a three-week camp at Main Event Sports Club in Glendale, Calif., in his quest to win back a world title and the bantamweight tournament.

“I did all my sparring in Australia, but when I came here I just worked on my legs, my movement and my speed, Darchinyan said. “All my hard sparring was in Australia, but I worked on my speed in Los Angeles.

Darchinyan insists that although he lost to Agbeko in his first fight at 118 pounds that he’s not uncomfortable in his new division.

“I feel comfortable at 118 pounds, absolutely, Darchinyan said. “When I fought him he didn’t overpower me — he just moved too much and head-butted me too much. There was really only a one-point difference in the scorecard.

“It was not because of weight. I fought too much and went for the knockout and didn’t control myself. I’m more controlled now and ready for Mares.

Darchinyan would love a rematch against Agbeko but claims he’d also love the chance to knock out Perez to earn back his world title.

“I’d love to face Agbeko in the finals, but if he loses we’ll knock out Perez, Darchinyan said. “We’ll take anyone in this tournament.

Regardless of who he’d like to face in the finals, Darchinyan claims to have a solid plan of attack for Mares.

“My game plan is to be fast and powerful, Darchinyan said. “I’ve fought in 14 world title fights, he’s fought in one. I’m going to out-school him badly and prove to the whole world that I’m too good for him and anyone in this division.

“This fight is a mismatch. I am just too good for him.


The 25-year-old Mares trained at home for the first time at the Maywood Boxing Gym in Maywood, Calif. The rising star is reunited with former trainer Clemente Medina, who was his trainer when he made his pro debut and for his first six professional fights.

Mares focused on sparring with larger opponents – mostly 126 pounds and up – to prepare for the heavy-hitting Darchinyan. Most notably, he sparred with former super bantamweight world champion and current featherweight contender Daniel Ponce de Leon.

“We sparred with guys that have a similar style to Vic, Mares said. “Vic gets reckless and throws such wild punches that you don’t know where they are coming from. The guys I worked with are heavy punchers so it’s to our advantage. Looking for southpaw sparring is always difficult, but I think training with heavier guys will make me not feel the heavy hits of a smaller guy like Vic when I get in the ring.’’

Mares, who said he has had issues making weight in the past, trained twice a day — in the afternoons and evenings – for the first time in his career.

“I think that’s what has made the difference for me, Mares said. “We won’t have trouble making weight and we’re eating a lot better. I weighed in at 121 on Dec. 1, so 118 pounds won’t be an issue for us this time.

The youngest fighter in the tournament, Mares says a win over a two-division world champ like Darchinyan would be a career-defining victory.

“Being in a ring against a big fighter like Vic Darchinyan and beating him will definitely make a statement, Mares said. “If I beat him I’ll be making a statement that I’m a legitimate champion, a strong fighter and a guy with a big name. It’d be even better if I knocked him out.

For the Mexican-born Mares, there’s an added incentive and motivation to defeat Darchinyan, who owns victories over Mexican warriors Cristian Mijares and Jorge Arce.

“For me, it makes it much more important and exciting for me to beat a guy like Darchinyan who has beaten all the Mexican fighters, Mares said. “I definitely want to be the Mexican that beats him. I just want to get in there with him.

But the fact that he’s defeated a few of Mares’ idols doesn’t mean he’s intimidated by Darchinyan’s unorthodox and unpredictable style.

“Speed beats power, Mares said. “And come Dec. 11, we plan on proving that.

Mares would also clearly love to avenge his draw against Perez in the Finals of the tournament, but he insists that there is no easy fight for the four 118-pounders.

“I definitely have some unfinished business with Yonnhy, so if it were my choice I would choose Yonnhy because of the draw I have against him, Mares said. “But there’s no easy fight. The winner of those two will definitely be a hard fight for whoever wins our fight. There’s no easy way to win this tournament.

Articles of 2010

Judah To Fight Mbuza March 5 In NJ




Totowa, NJ – Kathy Duva, Main Events CEO, announced their promotional firm won the purse bid held at IBF headquarters in East Orange, NJ, Thursday. The bid was for the right to hold the IBF's junior welterweight title fight between Zab Judah of Brooklyn, NY and Las Vegas, and South Africa's Kaizer Mabuza.

IBF Championships Chairman, Lindsay Tucker explained, “It is a 50-50 split of the earnings between the two fighters. Kaizer is ranked No. 1 by the IBF, and Judah is No. 2. Where the fight will be held is up to the winning bidder.”

Judah (39-6, 26 KOs) is promoted by Main Events and his own firm Super Judah Promotions, and Branco Milenkovic, of South Africa, promotes Mabuza (23-6-3, 14 KOs).

Kathy Duva confirmed the fight will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, late February or early March this year as part of Main Events' Brick City Boxing Series.  (Saturday Update: the fight is March 5th, in NJ at the Pru Center. The bout will be part of a PPV card.)

“We are very happy that Zab has the opportunity to fight for the IBF Junior Welterweight title right here in New Jersey.  Winning this fight will put Zab right in the mix with the winner of Bradley-Alexander and Amir Khan.” Duva elaborated, ” Zab will work very hard to win this fight so that he will be one step closer to his ultimate goal of unifying all of the Junior Welterweight titles by the end of 2011!”

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Articles of 2010

UFC 125 Preview: Frankie Edgar Vs. Gray Maynard



Few predicted Frankie Edgar would grab the UFC lightweight championship last year but he did. Most felt he would eventually win it but Edgar not only took the title, he beat one of the best mixed martial artists in history to do it.

Edgar (13-1) has emerged from the milieu of nondescript MMA fighters to become one of the more brilliant performers for Ultimate Fighting Championship. Next comes a rematch with Gray “The Bully” Maynard (11-0) tomorrow at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. UFC 125 will be televised on pay-per-view.

All it took was not one, but two victories over BJ Penn.

If you’re not familiar with Penn, he’s one of the most versatile fighters in MMA history and had been nearly unbeatable in the 155-pound lightweight division. That is until he clashed with Edgar. Until he met New Jersey’s Edgar, the Hawaiian fighter chopped down lightweight opponents with ease. It was only the heavier welterweights he had problems against. Namely: Canada’s Georges St. Pierre.

Edgar showed poise, speed and grit in defeating Penn in back-to-back fights. The world took notice.

“You know, if I keep winning fights, the respect will come eventually,” said Edgar during a conference call.

Now Edgar will find out if he can avenge the only loss on his record.

“I just think I grew as a fighter. You know, mentally, you know, physically I, you know, possess differently skills, increased – you know, I think I boxed and got better, my Jiu-Jitsu got better and, you know, just have much more experience now,” Edgar says.

Maynard seeks to find out if Edgar has added any more fighting tools to his repertoire. Back in April 2008, the artillery shelled out was not enough to beat the Las Vegas fighter.

“It’s a perfect time. He had the chance and, you know, he took it and the time is now for me and I’m prepared,” said Maynard (11-0). “Any time you’re going up against the top in the world, you evolve and change and so I’m prepared for a new fight, so it will be good. I’m pumped for it.”

Though Maynard’s record indicates he is unbeaten that’s not entirely true. He did suffer a defeat to Nate Diaz during The Ultimate Fighter series and subsequently avenged that loss last January.

The UFC lightweight title is in Maynard’s bull’s eye.

“Looking to take the belt for sure,” said Maynard. “We’ll see on January 1.”

Edgar versus Maynard should be a good one.

Other bouts:

Nate Diaz (13-5) faces Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1) in another welterweight tussle. Diaz is the only fighter with a win over Maynard. Anyone watching TUF remembers Maynard tapping out from a Diaz guillotine choke. The Modesto fighter has a tough fight against South Korea’s Kim.

Chris Leben (21-6) fights Brian Stann (9-3) in a middleweight fight. Leben is a veteran of MMA and if an opponent is not ready for a rough and tumble fight, well, that fighter is not going to win. Stann dropped down from light heavyweight and we’ll see if the cut in weight benefits the Marine.

Brandon Vera (11-5) meets Thiago Silva (14-2) in a light heavyweight match up. Vera is trying to rally back to the promising fighter he was tabbed several years back. Silva is a very tough customer and eager to crash the elite. A victory by either fighter could mean a ticket to the big time.

Clay Guida (27-8) versus Takanori Gomi (32-6) in a lightweight bout. Guida has become one of the most feared fighters without a title. No one has an easy time with the long-haired fighter. Gomi lost to Kenny Florian but knocked out Tyson Griffin. Can he survive Guida?

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-8) clashes with Jeremy Stephens (18-6) in another lightweight fight. Davis is a go-for-broke kind of fighter and is looking to get back in the win column after a tumultuous battle with Nate Diaz last August. Stephens needs a win too. In his last bout he lost to Melvin Guillard.

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Articles of 2010

Borges Looks Back, And Forward With Hope




As the end of another year approaches, there’s no need to invoke Charles Dickens to describe what went on in boxing. It was neither the best of times nor the worst of times. It was just too much time spent on The Fight That Never Took Place.

For the second straight year the sport could not deliver The Fight, the only one fans universally wanted and even casual fans craved – the mix between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao.  No one has to be singled out for blame for that failure because this time there’s plenty to go around on both sides. The larger issue is what does it say about a sport when it cannot deliver its top event?

What would the NFL be without the Super Bowl? Where would major league baseball be without the World Series? Golf without the Masters? College basketball without March Madness?

They would all be less than they could be and so it was with boxing this year. Having said that, the sport was not without its signature moments. It was not bereft of nights that left those of us with an abiding (and often unrequited) love for prize fighting with good reason to hope for the future.

Three times promoter Bob Arum took the sport into massive stadium venues just like the good (very) old days and each time boxing drew a far larger crowd than its many critics expected. Twice those fights involved the sport’s leading ambassador, Pacquiao, who brought in crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 fans into Cowboys Stadium against inferior opponents Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Imagine what he might have done had Mayweather been in the opposite corner?

While both fights were, as expected, lopsided affairs, they showcased the one boxer who has transcended his sport’s confining walls to become a cultural icon and world celebrity. Pacquiao alone put boxing (or at least one boxer) on the cover of TIME and into the pages of such varied publications as Esquire, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, the American Airlines in-flight magazine and even Atlantic Monthly.

As history has proven time and again, that is what happens when boxing has a compelling personality to sell it and Pacquiao is that. Mayweather is such a person as well,  but for different reasons.

The one night he appeared in a boxing ring, he set the year’s pay-per-view standard against Shane Mosley while also leaving a first hint of dark mystery when he was staggered by two stinging right hands in the second round.

Mayweather was momentarily in trouble for the first time in his career but the moment passed quickly and Mosley never had another. By the end he had been made to look old and futile, a faded athlete who’d had his chance and was unable to do anything with it. So it goes in this harsh sport when the sands are running out of the hour glass.

As always there were some surprising upsets, most notably Jason Litzau’s domination of an uninterested and out of shape Celestino Caballero and Sergio Martinez’s one-punch demolishment of Paul Williams. The latter was not so much an upset as it was a stunning reminder that when someone makes a mistake against a highly skilled opponent in this sport they don’t end up embarrassed. They end up unconscious.

SHOWTIME did all it could to further the future of the sport, offering up a continuation of its interminably long but still bold Super Six super middleweight tournament as well as the launching of a short form bantamweight tournament which already gave fans to two stirring and surprising finishes with Joseph Agbeko decisioning Jhonny Perez and Abner Mares upsetting Victor Darchinyan in a battle of contusions.

While the Super Six has had its problems – including several of the original six pulling out – it also lifted the profile of former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward from nearly unknown to the cusp of universal recognized as the best super middleweight in the world this side of Lucian Bute. If Ward continues winning he’ll get to Bute soon enough because that’s why SHOWTIME signed a TV deal with the Canadian and America may get its next boxing star if Ward proves to be what I think he is – which is still underrated and underappreciated.

HBO and HBO pay-per-view put on 23 shows, few of them compelling and many of them paying big money to the wrong people while doing little or nothing to grow the sport that has helped make their network rich. But they did have the knockout of the year – Martinez’s second round destruction of Williams – and some fights in the lower weight classes that were left you wanting more.

Two new names popped up who are causing the kind of fan reaction that also gives us hope for 2011 – American Brandon Rios and Mexican Saul Alvarez. They are two of the sport’s brightest young prospects because each comes to the arena the old-fashioned way – carrying nothing but bad intentions.
Aggression and knockouts still sell boxing faster than anything else and each exhibited plenty of both this year and left fans wanting to see more. Alvarez is already a star in Mexico without having yet won a world title and Rios is the definition of “promise.’’ Whether the star will continue to shine and promise will be fulfilled may be answered next year and so we wait anxiously to find out.

Backed by Golden Boy Promotions, there is no reason 2011 shouldn’t be Alvarez’s year and if it is people will notice and remember him because he has a crowd-pleasing style that is all about what sells most.

That is what boxing needs more of – fresh faces and new stars… so as fans we should root for guys like Alvarez, Ward, Rios and young Brit Amir Khan, who is a star in England but still a question mark with a questionable chin but a fighter’s heart here in the U.S.

Those guys and others not yet as well known are the future of boxing, a sport that for too long has been recycling the likes of Mosley (as it will again in May for one last beating against Pacquiao in a fight that's a joke), Bernard Hopkins (who can still fight although it is unclear why he bothers or where it’s all headed), Roy Jones and, sadly, even 48-year-old Evander Holyfield, who continues to delude himself but not many other people into believing he will soon unify the heavyweight title again.
If fighters like Ward, Alvarez, Rios, Khan, WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto and middleweight king Sergio Martinez continue their rise they could be the antidote for the art of the retread that Arum and Golden Boy have been forcing fans to buy the past few years at the expense of what boxing needs most – fresh faces.

The heavyweight division, which many believe determines the relevancy of boxing to the larger world, remains a vast desert of disinterest here in the US. The Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, hold 75 per cent of the title belts but few peoples’ imaginations in the US, although to be fair they are European superstars and don’t really need U.S. cable TV money to thrive economically.

Each defended their titles twice this year, Vitali against lame competition (Albert Sosnowski and Shannon Briggs) and Wladimir against better fighters (Sam Peter and Eddie Chambers) but not competitive ones. Sadly, there is no American on the horizon to challenge them, a comment on the division and on our country, where the athletes who used to be Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali now opt for the easier and frankly safer road of the NFL or the NBA. Who can blame them considering all the nonsense a fighter has to go through to just make a living these days?

The one heavyweight match that would be compelling and might lift the sport up for at least a night would be either of the Klitschkos facing lippy WBA champion David Haye. The fast-talking Brit claims to not be ducking them but he’s had more maladies befall him after shouting from the rooftops how much he wants to challenge them that you have to wonder if Haye is simply a case of big hat no cattle syndrome.

For the sake of the sport, we should all be lighting candles each night in hopes our prayers will be answered and Haye will finally agree to meet one of them. It may not prove to be much of a fight but at least it will give us something to talk about for a few months.

Whatever Haye and the Klitschkos decide the fighter with the most upside at the moment however seems to be Sergio Martinez.  He has matinee idol looks, a big enough punch to put Paul Williams to sleep with one shot and a work ethic second to none. The Argentine fighter had a year for himself, starting with a drubbing of Kelly Pavlik followed by his demolishment of Williams. Those kinds of victories, coupled with his Oscar De La Hoya-like looks, are the type of things that if HBO or SHOWTIME would get behind him could allow Martinez to capture the attention of both fight fans and more casual ones.

In general, Hispanics fighters continued to dominate much of the sport’s front pages with Juan Manuel Marquez’s two victories in lightweight title fights leading that storyline. His war with Michael Katsidis is a strong candidate for Fight of the Year and his technical skill and calm demeanor make him the uncrowned challenger to Pacquiao. The two have unfinished business that should be settled this year if Arum stops standing in the way.

Two other fighters who gave us moments to remember in 2010 were Juan Manuel Lopez, who knocked out three solid opponents including highly respected Mexican warrior Rafael Marquez, and Giovani Segura, who won four times (that’s three years work for Mayweather) in 2010, all by knockout. Along the way, Segura defeated one of the great minimum weight fighters in history, slick Ivan Calderon, to win the belt on Aug. 28.

Lastly, boxing gave us another magical cinematic moment as well with the release of “The Fighter,’’ a film based on the life and hard times of junior welterweight scrapper Micky Ward. The film has won rave reviews and many awards and seems likely to have several of its actors nominated for Academy Awards, most notable Christian Bale for his sadly humorous portrayal of Ward’s troubled half brother, former fighter Dickie Ecklund.

Boxing has a long history of providing the framework for memorable movies and it did it again with “The Fighter,’’ a film that did more for boxing than any promoter did all year.

All in all, it wasn’t the best of years for boxing but it was a good year that picked up speed in the final months and, like that great golf shot you finally hit out of the rough on the 18th, left us with reasons to hope for a better year in 2011. If somehow it gives us Mayweather-Pacquiao, the emergence of Alvarez and Rios, the ascension of Martinez and Haye vs. the best available Klitschko in addition to the kind of solid performances that always come along, it could be a year to remember.

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