Thursday, August 11, 2022  |


Weekend Review: Perez’s big night


Joseph Agbeko went down largely because of a head butt but the night belonged to Yonnhy Perez. Photo / Chris


Yonnhy Perez: Everyone knew Perez was good – just not this good. The California-based Colombian turned in a break-through performance against an extremely tough opponent in Joseph Agbeko on Saturday in Las Vegas. Perez outboxed and outslugged the fierce Ghanian in a brutal fight to win a comfortable decision, his second straight victory over a Top 10-rated African opponent. (He stopped Silence Mabuza in the 12th round in May.) Thus, Perez takes Agbeko’s alphabet title and moves up the list of best bantamweights in the world. Perez’s success must be particularly gratifying for him. He turned pro late, at 26, because of military service and won his first title at 30. He’s just getting started.


Joseph Agbeko: This is a case in which it’s inappropriate to call the loser a loser. “King Kong” proved again that he’s one of the fiercest, best-conditioned, fun-to-watch warriors in the sport. He simply ran into a better boxer who also is as tough and fit as he is. He seemed to be devastated immediately after the fight, which was understandable. He had considerable momentum after dominating Vic Darchinyan in his previous fight and had his sights set on the pound-for-pound list. Agbeko is the type to bounce back, though. He works extremely hard and believes in himself. Whether he gets a rematch with Perez or ends up fighting someone else, I don’t envy his next opponent.


A rematch: The judges got the Agbeko-Perez fight right in terms of the winner but I think it was closer than the official scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110. That means that one judge had it eight rounds to four and the other two nine to three. I had it 115-112, or seven to five. Keith Kaiser, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, has pointed out that a close fight can look one-sided on the cards because one fighter can win many close rounds. That appears to be the case on Saturday. The point here is that Agbeko probably deserves another shot at Perez in spite of the lopsided decision.


Don King: King claims that his international broadcast team sold the Agbeko-Perez fight to more than 200 countries, according to Yahoo! Sports. And, in effect, he used that figure as evidence that he remains a force in the boxing business. One problem, though: There are fewer than 200 countries in the world. The actual number of countries apparently is 192 to 196, depending on the source. So it appears that King lied, exaggerated a bit or was misinformed. It wouldn’t be the first time a promoter played around with the facts. King also said that the promoters of Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto would be happy to reach 100 countries. How could Agbeko-Perez do better than Pacquiao-Cotto? Maybe it’s that crack international broadcast team that sells fights to countries that don’t exist.


Tyson comeback: Interviewer Jim Gray asked Mike Tyson before the Agbeko-Perez fight whether he would consider a comeback at 43. Tyson had the right instincts, indicating that he had no intention of fighting again, but he did say that nothing is out of the question. Gray then asked Don King whether he would play a role in the comeback and the old promoter – dollar signs glistening in his eyes – said it was possible. Terrible idea. Tyson was 38 when he was beaten up by journeyman Kevin McBride in his last fight, in 2005. He couldn’t fight then; what makes anyone think he can fight now? Tyson at this point would be more circus act that athlete, which is the last thing he needs at a time when he seems to be getting his life in order.


Antonio DeMarco: DeMarco outclassed Jose Alfaro on the Agbeko-Perez undercard, continuing a nice run of quality performances. The Mexican southpaw is both skilled and tough. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he might travel to Venezuela to challenge lightweight titleholder Edwin Valero. DeMarco will tell you that any title shot is good, which is hard to dispute. However, he probably has neither the speed nor brute strength to hang with a monster as quick and hard-punching as the unbeaten Valero. And, of course, his task would be doubly challenging if he goes to Valero’s native land. Valero can’t fight in the U.S. at the moment because of visa problems.


Vargas comeback: Fighter-turned-promoter Fernando Vargas reportedly challenged Hector Camacho Jr. after Camacho’s split-decision victory over Yory Campas on Saturday night. Vargas had a fine career but his decline was pronounced. The fighter who was outpointed by Ricardo Mayorga in his last fight, two years ago, wasn’t half as good as the fighter who won titles at junior middleweight. Plus, Vargas, who predicted during his prime that he’d be a hefty guy because he loves food, would drain himself trying to make weight for a middleweight or super middleweight fight. I’ve always said that Vargas is one of the brightest fighters I’ve ever known. I'd be surprised if he fought again.


Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao knows Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn’t afraid to fight him even though that’s what he told the Associated Press. Pacquiao undoubtedly was doing some early goading in an attempt to lure Mayweather into the ring for what would be the most-lucractive matchup possible, assuming Pacquiao beats Cotto on Nov. 14. Rest assured that Mayweather has no doubt that he would beat Pacquaio. Indeed, fear will not stand in the way of this fight taking place but intransigence during negotiations might as both fighters are going to demand the lion’s share of the profits. They’ll probably reach an agreement because of the money at stake but negotiations won’t be pretty.


Chad Dawson: The resident of New Haven, Conn., who faces Glen Johnson on Saturday in Hartford, plans to honor slain UConn football player Jasper Howard on fight night by wearing his No. 6 on his trunks and wearing his jersey during his ring walk if he can get permission from the university. “It was a horrible tragedy for his family and his football team, and we definitely want to pay our respects to him and the whole UConn football team,” Dawson told the Associated Press. Dawson doesn’t have the charisma of some of his rivals – in or out of the ring – but he has always been a class act.


Manny Pacquiao, about Floyd Mayweather Jr. (from the Associated Press): “Boxing for him is like a business. He doesn’t care about the people around him watching. He doesn’t care if the fight is boring, as long as the fight is finished and he gets (plenty of) money. ÔǪ I want people to be happy. You have a big responsibility as a boxer.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]