In the evening’s co-feature 30-year-old former IBF bantamweight champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (28-2, 27KOs) of Bronx, NY., by way of Ghana, routed 31-year-old Colombian by way of Santa Fe Springs, CA., Yonnhy “El Colombiano” Perez (20-1-1, 14KOs), by unanimous decision showing Perez the taste of defeat for the first time as Joseph snatched back his IBF gold setting up a tournament final match up against Abner Mares.
Coming into the tourney undefeated Yonnhy Perez was the only world champion and making the second defense of his IBF trinket in what was a rematch of 2009 fight of the year candidate. Perez picked up right where he left off moving forward with the jab while unleashing rights and lefts aimed high. “King Kong” was going to the body with straight-rights and connected with the first meaningful strike, a left-hook to the head of the champ. Both men employed an educated jab and Agbeko was dawning a good guard which saw many of “El Colombiano’s” punches catching leather. Like Darchinyan, Agbeko promised to fight smart and in the 1st round he was very composed and easily out-jabbing the Colombian. Both pugilist closed the round pasting multiple left-hooks on one another in a close opening period which I gave to the challenger.
They continued to exchange more hooks than a pirate convention and at 2:24 of the 2nd round Agbeko adhered an overhand-right to the head of Perez that was the best punch to that point and Yonnhy answered moments later with his own overhand-right that twisted Joseph’s dome. Agbeko was looking sharp landing left-hooks upstairs and crisp shots to both sides of Yonnhy’s torso. The Ghana native was keeping his hands low and making Perez miss by bending his upper body at the waist from angle to angle with his feet planted and landing two-fisted counter-strikes much like Floyd Mayweather Jr. does.
In the unexpected, Agbeko was gliding around the ring showing off his technical boxing attributes in successful fashion. Every time Yonnhy uncorked his power shots the elusive Agbeko was nowhere to be found. “King Kong” easily picked off “El Colombiano” with peppering blows dominating the 3rd.
Agbeko touched Perez with a left-hook straight-right combo to begin the 4th round to which Yonnhy countered with a right of his own then was smacked by a huge Agbeko right-counter and “King Kong’s” combinations were flowing beautifully. Agbeko’s defense and ring generalship were superb. With a minute to go in round four a cut was opened up over Perez’s left eye, as was the case in their first encounter, from a Darchinyan jab that was ruled so by the third man in the ring. Joseph targeted the cut with a few hard rights and after four rounds of championship boxing Yonnhy Perez found himself in a hole.
Entering the 5th round there was a sense of urgency coming from the Perez camp and “King Kong” went right back to work on Perez’ cut with overhand-rights as his range finding jab kept the champ at bay. Agbeko stated before the fight that he expected World War II but the wiley New Yorker made it look like Operation Desert Storm by dismantling Perez quick and taking little damage in doing so. Perez did find some success in the 5th though, knocking Agbeko back with two nice overhand-rights that were Yonnhy’s best strikes so far. If you were going to give a round to Perez it would have been the 5th, even though he was still out landed I gave it to the champ.
From the outset of the 6th round Perez trapped Agbeko against the ropes and they went tit-for-tat in the first real good exchange. “King Kong” then got away and went back to boxing landing a pretty left-right left-right combination then proceeded to knock Perez about the ring for the next minute. Perez cam back though connecting with a huge right up top that Agbeko brushed off as if it was nothing. Perez landed another right-hand bomb and the combatants went toe-to-toe for the duration in a punishing round for both warriors.
To begin the 7th round Perez tagged Joseph with a resounding overhand-right to which the Ghana native countered with an overhand-right and the fight was turning into a brawl. Agbeko resumed moving and landed some H-Bombs with both fist to the face of Yonnhy who kept coming forward. Then “King Kong” pasted a thunderous uppercut but the terminator from Colombia would not stop encroaching. Agbeko beat up Perez in the 7th with vicious blows but it seemed neither scrapper could be hurt on this evening.
The eighth round saw Agbeko pushing Perez back for the first time and displaying a boxing lesson for everyone watching, especially Perez who whose body was feeling the lecture. Both Perez and Agbeko connected with knockout punches in a close round eight which “El Colombiano” came back in, giving the spectators great see-saw action.
In the 9th round Agbeko’s hands were still low and due to stamina issues and he couldn’t simply get out of the way of Perez’ attack by bending his upper torso at the waist and Yonnhy was finding more frequent success as he tried to close the distance. Agbeko was technical in the 10th and easily out boxed Perez claiming that three minutes. Heading into the championship rounds Perez needed a knockout to realize victory on my card but round eleven turned out to be another round ten as Joseph dictated the pace and boxed Yonnhy’s socks off.
In the 12th and final round Perez had nothing left and Agbeko peppered him with sturdy blows all the way to the end en-route to a dominating night over the Colombian.
When the scores were read Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko won a unanimous decision with tallies of 116-112, 117-111 and 115-113, reclaiming his IBF bantamweight world title and advancing to the Bantamweight Tournament Championship to face undefeated sensation Abner Mares. With the victory Agbeko moves his record to 28-2 with 22 knockouts while Yonny Perez, who will face Darchinyan in the consolation bout, falls to 20-1-1 with 14 knockouts as he taste defeat for the first time.
“This is my meal ticket and I’m glad I got it back,” Agbeko told Farhood in the post fight interview.
Agbeko also dedicated his triumph to Ghana, former great Azuma Nelson and his children at home.
The classy Yonnhy Perez did not have much to say after the defeat but said, “Agbeko had an intelligent fight today and won fair and square.”
SHOWTIME hit a homerun with their start to another competitive tournament that saw brilliant action in the opening round as well as some unexpected role reversal game plans. The final promises more of the same so be sure to tune in to watch four evenly matched warriors do it all over again.
All Photos by Tom Casino
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