ATLANTIC CITY (November 13, 2013) -- Undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) / World Boxing Organization (WBO) 122-pound world champion and Cuban sensation GUILLERMO "El Chacal" RIGONDEAUX returns to the ring fresh from his career-best victory. Rigondeaux will be bidding for Fighter of the Year honors when he defends his unified titles against former two-time world champion JOSEPH "King Kong" AGBEKO, Saturday, December 7, at Boardwalk Hall's Adrian Phillips Ballroom in Atlantic City. The card will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark®beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT. The live telecast will also feature local favorite GLEN "Jersey Boy" TAPIA risking his Top-10 rating and undefeated record in a 10-round junior middleweight battle against knockout artist JAMES KIRKLAND and three-time world title challenger MATTHEW MACKLIN in a 10-round middleweight rumble against undefeated contender LAMAR RUSS.
These six gladiators boast a combined record of 135-10, 96 KOs -- a winning percentage of 93% and a victory by knockout ratio of 71%.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with Caesars Atlantic City, Caribe Promotions, SMS Promotions, DiBella Entertainment and Tecate, tickets to the Rigondeaux vs. Agbeko world championship event go on sale Tomorrow! Thursday, November 14, at Noon ET. Priced at $200, $100. $50 and $25, plus applicable service charges, tickets can be purchased at Boardwalk Hall box office, all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge by phone call 800-736-1420.
"After a brilliant performance against Nonito Donaire, Rigondeaux puts his extraordinary skills to test on December 7 against Joseph Agbeko," said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. “This bout epitomizes the contrast of style of slick boxer versus brawler. Which style will prevail?"
“On December 7, fans will see some of the fight game's purest boxing and punching at its most distilled," says Peter Nelson, director of programming, HBO Sports. "The Boardwalk in Atlantic City is the perfect home for three such intriguing match-ups."
"I'm very excited to get back in the ring,” said Rigondeaux. “Joseph Agbeko is a great champion, and I believe all fans will be pleased with the type of performance we will both exhibit to end a great year of boxing. I believe Agbeko will come prepared, ready to engage and be very aggressive. We will both showcase our skills, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to end 2013 the way I opened it up, with surprise and pure boxing class for the world to see. I would like to thank HBO, my promoters Top Rank and Caribe promotions, my manager Gary Hyde, advisor Alex Bornote, trainers Ramon Garbey, Joel Casamayor, Pedro Luis, and all those that have a part in making this fight happen."
"This is going to be a great fight. I'm extremely motivated. I plan to make my country proud by becoming world champion again after I defeat Rigondeaux," declared Agbeko.
“I've been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. Now that it’s here it's time for me to show the world that I'm here to stay. This is just the beginning,” said Tapia.
"Tapia hasn't fought anyone near my level. I'm going for the knockout," said Kirkland.
"I am looking forward to getting back in the ring and back to my winning ways," said Macklin. "I've seen a few of Russ' fights and he's very sharp, very skilled and he's always in exciting fights as am I. This should be a great fight for the fans both in Atlantic City and those watching on HBO. A big win against Lamar will set me up nicely for a big 2014."
"This is great opportunity for me and my team," said Russ. "I want it to be known to the fans and to Macklin that on December 7th I am coming to fight and I am coming to win."
"We are delighted that Joseph Agbeko has stepped up to the plate by challenging Rigo for his WBA and WBO world titles and we are looking forward to putting on a "master class performance" against little Joe December 7th," said Gary Hyde, Rigondeaux's manager.
"Joseph Agbeko is a great warrior in the tradition of African fighters like Azumah Nelson. He's coming for the title and plans to lay it all on the line. He's a legitimate danger to Rigondeaux,” said Frank Espinoza, Agbeko’s manager.
“I'd like to thank Top Rank and HBO for giving Glen this opportunity,” said Tapia’s manager Pat Lynch. “I know it's something he’s worked really hard for. It's going to be a great fight and Glen will not disappoint his fans on December 7.”
"Kirkland brings all-out aggression into the ring. He's strong, powerful and exciting," said Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, of SMS Promotions.
“Macklin-Russ should be a barnburner between two fighters who can bang,” said Lou DiBella, Macklin’s promoter. “The fight means so much to both boxers that it can’t help but be a good one and we are happy that it is on such a high quality card in Atlantic City.”
"We know that Russ will come to fight but we are very confident in Matt’s skills and experience and know those two assets will put us back into the win column," said Macklin's advisor Anthony Catanzaro.
“Caesars Atlantic City’s commitment to sponsoring some of the top sporting events on the East Coast is no more evident than with this December 7th HBO triple header set for historic Boardwalk Hall,” said Kevin Ortzman, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Caesars, Bally’s, and Showboat Atlantic City. “As a boxing fan, I’m particularly looking forward to the Tapia v. Kirkland bout. Given Tapia’s New Jersey roots and his quick growing reputation as an up and comer, this match already possesses a great storyline and will certainly be a high energy affair.”
Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), of Miami, Fla., returns to the ring after unifying the titles by defeating 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaireon April 13 at a sold-out Radio City Music Hall in New York. Rigondeaux thoroughly dominated Donaire via a unanimous decision victory, ending his 12-year, 30-bout winning streak, as well as claiming his WBO junior featherweight title. Rigondeaux had a stellar amateur career, winning Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2000, World Amateur Championship titles in 2005 and 2001, and Pan American Games gold medals in 2005 and 2003, all at 119 pounds, before defecting from Cuba and embarking on a professional career which began in Miami in 2009. In only his seventh professional fight where both fighters scored knockdowns, Rigondeaux captured the WBA interim super bantamweight title, winning a tough split decision over the vastly more experienced former world champion Ricardo Cordoba in 2010. After successfully defending the interim title in 2011 with a first-round knockout of previously undefeated former European super bantamweight champion Willie Casey, Rigondeaux won the WBA world super bantamweight championship with a sixth-round knockout of previously undefeated defending champion Rico Ramos on January 20, 2012. Rigondeaux has successfully defended that title thrice since then, blasting once-beaten Teon Kennedy in the fifth round, which included Kennedy suffering five knockdowns en route to the loss, and winning a dominant unanimous decision over once-beaten contender Roberto Marroquin last year, on June 9 and September 15, respectively, and Donaire in their April title unification fight.
Before moving up to the junior featherweight division, Agbeko (29-4, 22 KOs), of Accra, Ghana, was one of the dominant forces of the bantamweight division. He captured his first International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight title just one month removed from his U.S. debut, on September 29, 2007, knocking out defending champion Luis Perez in the seventh round, ending Perez's seven-year winning streak. Agbeko successfully defended the title twice, winning decisions over William Gonzalez and Vic Darchinyan, before losing it to Yonnhy Perez in October 2009. Agbeko avenged that loss and reclaimed the title in their rematch 15 months later. His second reign ended in his first defense, August 2011, a majority decision loss to Abner Mares, who also won the rematch in December of that same year. After taking over a year off, Agbeko returned to the ring last March 22, and defeated Luis Melendez to capture the IBO bantamweight title. Agbeko will be training with Roger Mayweather for his upcoming world title challenge.
Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs), of Passaic, NJ, will be fighting for the fifth time this year, only the second time he has fought this much in a calendar year. And why not? Tapia has starched three of the four opponents he has faced so far this year, with the highlight being his nationally-televised eighth-round knockout of undefeated Abie Han, in July, to capture the vacant NABO junior middleweight title. He returns to the ring fresh from knocking out Elco Garcia in the fifth round on September 28, in Atlantic City. Tapia is currently world-rated No. 9 and No. 10, by the WBO and IBF, respectively.
Promoted by rap star 50 Cent's SMS Promotions, Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs), of Austin, TX, returns to the ring after a 21-month hiatus spent dealing with legal issues. The two-fisted wrecking machine has acquired 11 of his last 12 victories by knockout dating back to 2007 and his victory by knockout ratio is an incredible 87%. Prominent victories on his resume include Alfredo Angulo, Carlos Molina, Joel Julio and Bryan Vera.
Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs), of Birmingham, England, has collected Irish, British and European middleweight and junior middleweight titles since making his pro debut in 2001. His steady rise up the ratings matched by his impressive victories earned him his first title shot, against WBA middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in 2011, in the defending champion's backyard, Cologne, Germany. Macklin took it to Sturm from the opening bell but came up short on the judges' scorecards, losing a split decision that many observers thought reeked of "home cooking" in favor of the out-gunned Sturm His performance earned him two more title fights, against middleweight champions Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin, losing to both by stoppage.
Russ (14-0, 7 KOs), of Wilmington, NC, has twice served as WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's lead sparring partner in previous training camps. Career highlights include spectacular back-to-back knockout victories over Jose Alonzo and Jonathan Cepeda, who boasted a combined record of 25-0 when Russ fought them in 2012. A graduate of Fayetteville State University with a degree in Business Administration, Russ has taken care of business in 2013 winning all three bouts by unanimous decision.