Joseph Agbeko certainly gave off the vibe of a winner on Wednesday afternoon at BB King's in NYC, at a presser to hype the Saturday AC card, promoted by Top Rank, portions of which will run on HBO. The two-time champ, who now trains with Roger Mayweather in Vegas, told me that he is damn sure he's going to be the first pro to solve Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban cutie who is promising to be less of a mover, and more of a sniper moving forward. "Agbeko is the most competitive match I can make for Rigo," the promoter of the event, Bob Arum told me. "Rigo is an unbelievable talent. Our matchmakers wanted to match him with Chris Avalos, who's very active, thinking that would be an exciting fight, but there's no argument this is the more competitive."
Arum called for the press and fight watchers to shelve pre-concieved notion of what an exciting fighter is, and more so focus on the exemplary technical skills of Rigo on Saturday.
The boxer got low blowed when he was hit from all sides by people complaining he ran to much, and wasn't a fan friendly boxer, and was a difficult guy to promote, following his UD12 win over Nonito Donaire in April.
Now, to be honest, no, he's a sweet scientist sort, best appreciated not by the masses, but by the more educated classes, who can appreciate his artistry. And he's shy fellow, one not comfortable with the spotlight. I saw him looking down a lot, never smiling, during the whole presser. So, no, he's not a fighter likely to break out into being a PPV attraction, or a trash-talking seat-seller who is a promoters' dream. But there's room under our big tent for the guy, in my view.
I asked Arum if it's unfair to ask Rigo to be what he's not, to morph into a rumbler type? "I think he should fight in a way he's most comfortable fighting," said Arum, who turns 82 on Sunday, and will celebrate with his kids, and wife and grand-children in NYC, "I think a lot appreciate that way of fighting and a lot enjoy a different way of fighting, and they are allowed to have that. I thought the same in his last fight, and I also had that mindset, wanted more rock em sock em, but in retrospect I realized what I saw was a real talent, and a fighter should have the ability to show real talent even if a good many fight fans don't appreciate that type of performance and don't rate it a real talent."
I told Arum that in the case of a Rigo, I don't sit on the sidelines and nitpick and demand he engage in tradefests. But at certain points, I do find myself wishing for more, for more offense, for more concentrated offense, because I think, I know, that he is capable of doing more. Arum agreed, and told me he thinks the fighters' people are working to convince him to show less defensive adeptness, and ramp up the offense.
We shall see if the 33-year-old dog can shift his style so late in the game, or if he's set in his ways, on Saturday night.
Agbeko photo courtesy of Ed Keenan
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