ANAHEIM, Calif. – In a potential candidate for Fight of the Year, unbeaten Abner Mares will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver Bantamweight Championship titles against former two-time IBF 118-pound champion Joseph King Kong Agbeko in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING this Saturday, Dec. 3, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The 12-round bout between Mares (22-0-1, 13 KO’s) and Agbeko (28-3, 22 KO’s) is a rematch of a hotly disputed fight won by Mares via a 12-round majority decision last Aug. 13 in Las Vegas on SHOWTIME.
The opening half of Saturday’s world championship doubleheader will feature the SHOWTIME and United States debuts of Panama’s Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KO’s), who will defend his World Boxing Association (WBA) Bantamweight Super Championship againstTwo-Division World Champion Vic “The Raging Bull” Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KO’s).
Mares, who turned 26 on Monday, will be fighting for a fourth consecutive time on SHOWTIME, while Agbeko, 32, will be appearing on the network for a fifth time in a row. This will be Darchinyan’s 14th bout on the network.
Tickets, priced at $150, $100, $50 and $25, are available at all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com and via charge-by-phone (800) 745-3000 and at Honda Center Box Office.
The four classy and talented bantamweights, their promoters and teams participated in Wednesday’s final press conference at Honda Center. Here’s what they had say to say about this weekend’s event:
“I can’t reveal what my key to winning is, but what I can say is that I am going to fight my fight, a smart fight. There’s obviously been a lot of controversy going into this fight, but whatever pressure I felt is gone.
“I feel I did my job last time, but I know I need to perform at my best and win again. Agbeko thinks he should have won and has trained hard and is here to win. He’ll be bringing everything’s he’s got, so I feel we are both coming in with something to prove.
“I don’t really expect him to do anything differently, but you never know once the bell rings. I just know I’ll be ready for anything and everything.
“This will be one of my hardest fights. He’s a great champion, but he never really hurt me in our first fight.
“The fans will definitely experience a great fight. The expectations for both of us to perform at the highest level are there.
“I’m the champion and he is coming into my house to try to take what I trained so hard to win, and I’m here to prove I deserve to be world champion – and I will.”
JOSEPH KING KONG AGBEKO
“I want to thank everyone involved, including the IBF which mandated that we fight again.
“I’ve put the first fight behind me. It is in the past and gone. My focus right now and in recent weeks of training is on Saturday and regaining my title. I expect the referee to do his job.
“I’m honored to fight Mares (in Southern California) where he lives and to challenge him in front of his home crowd. It will make me fight that much harder.
“I hope we fill the arena and give fans a lot to cheer about. On Saturday, I will prove who is the best bantamweight in the world.”
“I am happy to be fighting in the United States. It was always a dream to fight here for the biggest promoter in the world.
“I’m looking forward to showing my intelligence and style of boxing to the fans at the arena and watching on television.
“I’m here to make a name for myself and to make a huge statement.”
“I want to thank everybody who helped get me on this card, including my promoter, Gary Shaw, and it is always nice to be back on SHOWTIME again.
“Moreno doesn’t come to make exciting fights. He likes to move and grab and just wants to do enough to win a round. He’s scared to get hit. I’m going to do what I do best and show my skills and fight smart, but I’m not going to mess around. I’ll jump on him and pressure him like no one he’s ever fought before and I’m going to try and knock him out in the first round.
“I will destroy him. I can’t see this fight going the distance. You’ll like what you see. I’m here to bring the excitement.
“Mares and Agbeko say they are moving up to 122 after this fight. After this fight, I would love to fight Mares at 122.’’
PROMOTER OSCAR DE LA HOYA (Golden Boy Promotions)
“Abner Mares is an honorable young man. Being the fighter and the man that he is, he called for this rematch. He could have fought another guy, but he wanted to clear up any controversy that may have surrounded their first fight and he wanted to fight Agbeko again.
“The bottom line is Abner holds the beautiful IBF belt and that we at Golden Boy are very proud of him for becoming our first home-grown world champion. On Saturday, we expect him to leave no doubt he is the best bantamweight in the world.
“I’m very excited about Saturday’s big event and thrilled to be working with so many of my good friends and fellow promoters. From top to bottom, we have put together an outstanding night of fights.”
PROMOTER DON KING (Don King Promotions)
"I’m glad to be in the great state of California with Saturday night's fight in Anaheim under the auspices of the California State Athletic Commission. Everybody who saw the first fight knows the low blows sustained by Agbeko by Mares sent the IBF world title to Mares by robbery. I am just glad that the head of the CSAC, George Dodd, has guaranteed that the rematch will be officiated fairly, and I trust it will.
"Mares didn’t win the first fight. He went into that fight at 21-0, and now he's 21 and a question mark, not 22-0 like the record books says. A referee gave him that win, that's why I call it a question mark. Mares should have been disqualified or the match should have been changed to no contest, but now we have a chance to clean this up, and I think it's going to be one great fight, a Pier 6 brawl.
"If Mares wins, I’ll give him all the credit he deserves, but in a fair fight I believe Agbeko will have the upper hand. Joseph is dedicated and committed to winning but he feels he’s been wronged, that forces beyond him have conspired to deny him two victories in Nevada. It's up to King Kong to go in there and shine against the young lion, Mares. The only one who can beat Agbeko is Agbeko. If he focuses and brings his best to the ring, nobody can beat him."
PROMOTER GARY SHAW (Gary Shaw Productions)
“One thing about Vic Darchinyan: he fights only the best, and wants to fight only the best. He, too, has some unfinished business with Mares because of the low blows. I hope after Vic wins Saturday that fight is made again.
“Another possibility (if Darchinyan is triumphant) is that he will retire and follow in the footsteps of Kimbo Slice, and go into MMA.”
FRANK ESPINOZA (Mares’ Manager)
“I want to thank SHOWTIME, Golden Boy and Don King for making this happen. We are happy this rematch is taking place. We respect the IBF’s decision for an immediate rematch. It was the right call.