The leap from super flyweight to bantamweight doesn’t seem like a massive leap to the average man. What’s three pounds, after all? Vic Darchinyan knows, after Joseph Agbeko, a strong, somewhat awkward, elusive hitter from Ghana clued him in at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. on Saturday evening. Darchinyan quite likely will skedaddle back to the 115 pound class, as Agbeko scored a unanimous decision (116-111, 114-113, 114-113) victory, showing the sport’s master trash talker that he can match him in the ring, as well as he matched him in the pre-fight trash-talk wars.
The scrap was no classic, as both men worked in a herky jerky style. But “King Kong” Agbeko’s power and defensive prowess was apparent from round one, and Darchinyan had to sense that securing a belt in a third class would perhaps have to wait for another day.
The winner spoke to Jim Gray after. “This is not King Kong the movie, this is King Kong in the ring,” he said. “I want to take it to the next level, and I know Vic can never stop my dream.”
Vic post-bout looked like he’d tried to make out with a weed whacker. He said he tried to load up with the left too much, and admitted his tactics were not wise. He applauded Agbeko’s movement, but would not concede that Agbeko is the better man overall. On this night, yes. My two cents: on most nights, Vic.
Agbeko (from Accra, Ghana, now living in NY; age 29; 116 ½ pounds on Friday; 26-1 entering) put up his IBF bantamweight title against Darchinyan (former fly champ, current super fly champ; from Armenia, living in Australia; age 33; 117 ½; 32-1-1 coming).
Tommy Kimmons acted as the referee, and was in the gunsight of Agbeko’s promoter, Don King, afterwards. “You did it man, that was a crooked referee, the worst I’ve ever seen,” he thundered. “You did it, you did it anyway. No fair play at all, no fair play. The worst I’ve ever seen!”
In the first, Evil Vic got in Kong’s face. The lefthander was a little herky jerky, as usual, and he showed that he respected the Ghanian from the start. Kong buckled EV, with a right, at the 45 second mark. In the second, Kong led with the right, which Vic often slipped. Vic had a nick over his left eye, but it didn’t look worrisome. In the third, Vic still hadn’t figured out his man, or his man’s rhythm. The Ghanian is active defensively, and weaves a lot, like EV. They both whaled away with ten seconds to go. The fight was no sweet science primer to this point.
In the fourth, Vic’s balance was messy at times, and his jab was AWOL. His crackerjack left landed a few times, but nothing truly troubled Kong. Kong’s lead right was his most effective weapon, but his volume wasn’t overwhelming. In the fifth, the sloppiness reached a new high, or low. Both men were loading up too much, and their accuracy suffered. In the sixth, Kong’s right was working. He caused some bruising under Vic’s left eye, and his stamina looked to be top shelf. In the seventh, Vic landed some, but nothing he was landing was too worrying to the bantamweight. A punch that might’ve wounded a lighter weight man wasn’t in the same league on this night, to this point. And then, bang, Vic scored a knockdown, at the 3:10 mark. A left hand/push combo did the trick in the overtime period, which went an extra minute on the timekeeper’s screwup. In the eighth, Kong dialed in. His right hand was still swift and sharp, and Vic was wild and wide. EV rarely likes to keep his hands up in high guard, of course, so Kong looked to exploit that. The two men scrapped after the bell.
In the ninth round, Vic’s energy level looked impressive. In the 10th, a meaner cut opened over Vic’s right eye, from a accidental butt. He mauled and brawled, and so did the man from Accra. In the 11th, Vic moved more, and sniped away. Kong plugged away; it was another tight round. In the 12th round, Kong’s straight right scored in the best launch of the round. Vic’s right eye streamed blood by the fight’s close. Agbeko and his squad acted like the victors afterwards, as Vic went back to his corner, and his cutman did some mopup work. We’d go to the cards.
In the TV opener, Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (21-1 coming in) met Anges Adjaho (from Benin, West Africa; 25-1 entering) in a lightweight tangle. DeMarco sent his man down with a straight left, which put him down, on his own volition in the ninth. He went to take a knee, and then DeMarco advanced on him, and hit him behind the head with a weak left. Adjaho complained, then turned on his belly, and buried his head in his gloves. He was hoping the ref would DQ DeMarco for a foul, but the ref didn’t cooperate. The ref counted, and reached a ten count. Game over for Adjaho. The official time was 2:59 of the ninth. The ref Tellis Assemenios explained himself to Jim Gray after. The ref seemed a bit confused, but did say he didn’t see the knee touch the ground. “I’d like to see the replay,” he admitted. “The knee’s not down,” the ref said, excitedly, as he saw the replay. The loser said he was indeed on a knee to Gray and also said he was hurt, badly, from the blow behind the head. “I thought I was winning the fight,” he said. The judges had it a draw to that point, FYI. Press row saw Adjaho up, all three scorers (Jake Donovan Santos Perez, Karl Freitag).
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV