New Bantamweight Boxing Tournament Announced

October 1, 2010

Los Angeles, California -- Showtime Sports held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the formation of a new bantamweight boxing tournament featuring four of the premiere fighters in the division. The format will be single-elimination, with each man fighting a total of two bouts.

The tournament has been called "Winner Takes All," and includes Vic Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KO's), Abner Mares (29-0-1, 13 KO's), Joseph Agbeko (27-2, 22 KO's), and Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1, 14 KO's). It will be promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, Thompson Boxing Promotions, and Don King Productions.

The first round of semifinal matches will take place in Irapuato, Mexico, on December 11, 2010, with Perez defending his belt against Agbeko, and Darchinyan and Mares competing for the WBC title.

Interestingly, all four fighters have some familiarity with each other, as Darchinyan previously has lost to Agbeko, and Mares has fought to a draw against Perez. In addition, Perez defeated Agbeko via unanimous decision in October 2009.

The winners of the semifinal bouts will then meet in the finals in 2011, with the losers fighting a consolation bout.

Showtime has demonstrated a commitment to the idea of tournament boxing, as it already is broadcasting the Super Six tournament at 168-pounds. That tournament has been plagued by canceled bouts and the withdrawal of fighters from the event.

Since the "Winner Takes All" tournament involves only four fighters however, the chances of such similar complications are less likely.

The Location in Irapuato, Mexico

According to Golden Boy executive Richard Schaefer, the promoters initially attempted to have the tournament take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That idea eventually was rejected because the arena did not have an open Saturday date until April 2011.

At that point, the promoters looked to have the semifinals in Mexico, in part because of the country's fine bantamweight tradition and passion for boxing.

Darchinyan did not seem too worried about fighting a Mexican fighter in Mexico, pointing out that "my style is a Mexican style," because he "will go for a knockout."

Gary Shaw, Darchinyan's promoter, would state that he was so confident in Darchinyan's abilities, he informed his fighter that he "called up Jose Sulaiman and we’re going to have a Mexican referee, we’re going to have three Mexican judges, a Mexican timekeeper and I know you'll win."

Abner Mares, a Southern California resident of Mexican descent would later jokingly retort to Gary Shaw, "thank you, I guess that's my Christmas present."

No Donaire or Montiel

Noticeably absent from the tournament are top fighters Nonito Donaire and Fernando Montiel, a fact not lost on some of the other fighters.

Of Montiel and Donaire, Darchinyan stated that they "don't want to be here, and know that the other guys can beat them."

Mares would later add that Donaire and Montiel, "didn't want to face any of us."

But regardless of which fighters declined to participate in the tournament, there was plenty of respect and anticipation among all the fighters and promoters involved.

Their message was obvious: Donaire and Montiel are not needed.

Case in point was Agbeko, who went out of his way to show respect to the other fighters at the press conference, saying that they were the "best" in the division, and that "in order to be the best you need to fight the best."

Darchinyan Interview

Darchinyan shed some light on his prior defeat to Agbeko, denying that the move up to bantamweight affected him. Instead, he insisted that he mentally "was not thinking" against Agbeko, which caused him to lose.

Darchinyan stated that in the days leading up to their fight, Agbeko had angered him at the various pre-fight press conferences to the point that he lost his edge.

As a result, Darchinyan claimed that he "could not sleep 2 to 3 days" before the fight, and that "anger killed me." He said that he "tried to knockout Agbeko in one round," rather than patiently sticking to his gameplan.

Mares Interview

Mares has been training with Roberto Alcazar in Sante Fe Springs, California, for his upcoming fight. According to Mares, his camp has placed an emphasis on speed because "speed kills power, and power is what Vic brings to the table."

He stated that his "youth and hunger" provide him with an edge over the other boxers in the field. Moreover, Mares believes that his extensive amateur and Olympic background will help him against Darchinyan because "his style is like the Europeans in amateur boxing."

Mares conceded however that fighting in Mexico does bring him added pressure because he naturally "wants to show more" to the local fans.

Agbeko Interview

Although Agbeko will be fighting Perez first, he believes that a fight with Mares will be the most interesting, stating that it would be "the most beautiful fight of the tournament."

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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