An impressive evening

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 15, 2010

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NEW YORK (BASN) — Through the years, SHOWTIME has broadcast some of the most astounding fights in the history of television.

Not only has their innovation evolved through SHOWTIME Event Television under the late Jay Larkin — but it has also expanded through its “ShoBox: The New Generation” and the “Super Six: World Boxing Classic” through the brainchild that is Ken Hershman.

Always looking for new ways to interest fans and satisfy monthly subscribers, SHOWTIME has uncovered another method to keep folks tuned-in.

The long-awaited and much anticipated SHOWTIME “Bantamweight Tournament: Winner Takes All” is a two-round, single elimination tournament matching four of the premiere 118-pounders in the world.

The tournament commenced this past Saturday night from the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington.

The main event featured the rematch between Yohnny Perez of Colombia, vs. Ghana’s Joesph Agbeko for the IBF 118-pound title.

Two-division world champion, Vic Darchinyan of Australia, challenged Mexican sensation Abner Mares. Each contest was scheduled for twelve rounds.

“After Saturday, I think everyone will see who is the favorite of this tournament,” Agbeko said before the first punch was thrown.

Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) emerged as one of the favorites to win the tournament having regained the IBF bantamweight title from Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a rematch from their exciting 2009 encounter.

Agbeko avenged his defeat by capturing a 12-round unanimous decision.

All three judges scored the bout: 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113 for Agbeko, now a two-time IBF bantamweight champion.

Similar to their first fight, the action was back-and-forth. There were so many overhand hooks thrown in the rematch, one clamored for a third fight. Unlike the first fight, however, Agbeko didn’t suffer an accidental head butt, nor did he suffer a knockdown.

Instead, Agbeko was the sharper boxer-puncher. He landed the more effective left jab. He worked the right hand, which was instrumental in bloodying and swelling the left eye of Perez.

While Perez wanted to stand and trade, Agbeko was more textbook. He slipped punches, moved around the ring, and was the more consistent fighter. Agbeko’s defense was excellent, as he made Perez miss a lot of punches in the middle of the ring for all to see.

In the co-feature: Mares proved that he is a star in the making. Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs), having survived a knockdown, cut on his forehead, and a point deduction shocked the older, harder-hitting Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs), via 12-round split decision.

All three judges scored the bout 114-112 (Mares), 111-115 (Darchinyan), and 115-111 (Mares).

“I know every boxer says that they just had the best camp of their life but this really has been a tremendous camp for me,” Mares said during the weeks leading up to the tournament. “I’m ready. I know I’m ready. As bantamweights, we are fighters known to throw a lot of punches. We’re known for making fights exciting.”

Mares was favored to beat the more experienced Darchinyan behind speed and swaying away from Darchinyan’s power. However, Mares was in a deep hole after the first third of the fight.

He suffered a cut on his forehead above his left eye in the first round. Mares was also the victim of a flash knockdown in round two before getting docked one point for hitting Darchinyan for a low blow in the fourth round.

One thing about Darchinyan is that he likes to bully his opponents. Just watch the way he destroyed Dimitri Kirillov and Cristian Mijares to unify the WBC/WBA and IBF super flyweight championships in 2008. However, Darchinyan, a veteran of 15 world title fights, couldn’t bully Mares.

Mares, a 2004 Mexican Olympian, didn’t fold under pressure they way Jorge Arce and Tomas Rojas did against Darchinyan in 2009. The younger 24-year-old moved forward and brought the fight to Darchinyan. Mares hurt Darchinyan with his right had in rounds five and six.

Mares kept his hands busy and kept moving forward; giving the older man fits. The 34-year-old Darchinyan likes to set his punches up to attack his opponents at a slow pace. Mares’ higher, youthful pace didn’t allow Darchinyan to get set.

In round seven, Darchinyan threw a left hand and missed, but Mares countered with a left-jab that floored Darchinyan on his behind for an official knockdown.

Darchinyan, a big puncher, landed some big punches including a booming straight-left in round six. But Darchinyan did throw enough solid punches in bunches. Mares punches had more conviction behind them and he did press the action in most exchanges.

The cut above Mares’ head trickled heavily into his left eye. It was amazing to see how Darchinyan didn’t attack Mares’ cut more often. Darchinyan allowed himself to be outworked in the second half of the bout.

Even in the last three rounds, Darchinyan became a one-punch fighter and even clinched in the final round when the fight was up for grabs.

“I obviously knew it was going to be a split decision,” Mares said. “I closed again like I always do. I showed again I can close rounds – championship rounds. I told you guys it was going to be a different fight. You people thought. I was going to be boxing, but it was me pushing Vic back. It was a hard fight, my hardest fight ever.”

Agbeko and Mares both advance to the finals of the bantamweight tournament, while Darchinyan and Perez will meet in a “consolation” bout early next year. The bantamweight final and consolation fight will each match a pair of fighters who have never faced each other.

It’s interesting because, aside from Agbeko-Perez, Agbeko also defeated Darchinyan in an IBF title defense in July 2009. Mares challenged Perez earlier this year for belt Agbeko regained.

The bantamweight tournament stems from the concept of the Super Six: World Boxing Classic. The differences between both tournaments are plenty. The bantamweight tournament only has four fighters, instead of six. There is no round-robin or group stage format. The bantamweight tournament consists of only two rounds – two semifinal fights, one final, and a bonus consolation bout.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Brashear – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Don King loses Mrs. King

The wife of famed boxing promoter Don King has passed away. Mrs. Henrietta King, who stood by her husband for more than 50 years during his biggest triumphs and failures, was 87 years old when she died last Thursday in South Florida.

Mrs. King was seldom seen in public. If you did see her in public, you wouldn’t know. She was the opposite of King’s colorful and dynamic personality. She never sought attention, according to insiders and kept a low profile. But according to Don King, Henrietta was his “rock” and “foundation.” Don King referred to his wife as his “best friend.”

Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at the funeral service over the weekend at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, OH where Mrs. King will be buried.

Quali finishes weirdly

The IBF welterweight title eliminator between former 140-pound champion, Randall Bailey (41-7, 36 KOs) and Said Ouali (27-3, 19 KOs) ended in controversy in Belgium on Friday. The bout was declared a no-contest after only two rounds when Ouali flew over the top rope

What nonsense.

Bailey, competing in his second consecutive IBF eliminator after having stopped Jackson Bonsu in round one last March, apparently floored Ouali in the first round. However, Ouali was awarded several extra seconds to beat the count, as referee Rumerio Ruggieri claimed Bailey didn’t know where the neutral corner was.

“When I hit someone, I know where the neutral corner is. That’s my job,” Bailey said. “[The count] was at least 15 seconds.”

Bailey scored a second knockdown in round two after landing another right hand in round two. Moments afterward, Ouali somehow ended-up Bailey’s back after a typical clinch. When Bailey rose, Ouali was suspended high over Bailey’s shoulders and was sitting on the top rope next to the red corner Ouali extended his right arm over the top rope, and leaped onto the canvas.

“I didn’t even know how he got to the other side of the ropes after I put him down,” said Bailey.

There was no way Ouali was going to finish the fight, even after having been allowed five minutes to continue. Ouali was on the verge of getting KO’d and leaped out of the ring to avoid what appeared to be the inevitable.

“We are working to get this injustice resolved,” said Bailey’s promoter, Lou DiBella. “We have already had conversations with the IBF about what will be done. The fact is, Ouali tasted Randall Bailey’s power and was on the verge of being another knockout victim at the hands of the most powerful fists in boxing.”

Klitschko injured, cancelled Chisora defense

Unified IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) was supposed to have defended his championships on Saturday in Germany.

However, within 48 hours of the fight, Klitschko suffered a strained abdominal muscle and was forced to withdraw from his fight with Britain’s Derek Chisora (14-0, 9 KOs). Klitschko is expected to be out four to six weeks.

Had Klitschko fought, it would have marked his tenth defense of the IBF heavyweight championship he won nearly five years ago by knocking out Chris Byrd.