SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. - After a spirited 60-minute media workout Monday at the Activity Center here, former International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs), of Santa Fe Springs, proclaimed himself fit and ready for his important 12-round fight against two-division world champion Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, in The Bantamweight Tournament: Winner Takes All on Saturday, April 23 LIVE on SHOWTIME® (10:30 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.
In the tournament finals, Joseph King Kong Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs), of the Bronx, N.Y. will defend his IBF 118-pound title against undefeated rising star Abner Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs), of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif.
Perez will be making his initial start since he suffered the lone loss of his career on a 12-round decision to Agbeko in a rematch on Dec. 11, 2010. In his first defense of the title he took from Agbeko on Oct. 31, 2009, Perez boxed a draw with Mares on May 22, 2010. All three fights were on SHOWTIME.
"I want my title back and the best way to do that is to win my next fight and then challenge the winner between (Joseph) Agbeko and (Abner) Mares,'' Perez said. "Both Agbeko and Mares got a shot at my title and they were great fights. A rematch against either would be just as exciting as our first fights.
"I'm totally recharged and ready to win by knockout. When I win this fight, I will be back in the game.''
(on his training camp)
"This training is distinctly different in that I have a lot of motivation. I was able to train in Colombia (for six weeks beginning in late February) and that motivated me so much. At first I trained with my old trainer from my amateur days and then Danny Zamora (his current trainer) arrived in Colombia to help me finish out the training there.
"But the most important thing for me was being able to be with my family during that time. That helped me immensely. My mind is on them all the time, whether I am with them or not, so being able to be with them was a major factor. I didn't have to wonder if everything was OK; I was right there with them. That made me more calm and at ease.
"I am not making excuses but before my last fight, I did my entire training camp in the U.S. and I felt so unmotivated because my mind was with my family and there was nothing I could do about it. I was mentally drained and the proof was in my flat performance against Agbeko. He fought the perfect fight that night but I wasn't there mentally. I wish I could erase the past and continue to the future on a positive note, but I lost. Now, my confidence is back and I am ready to win again.
"This has been my best training camp and I feel I have never been better. Motivation is the key with me. I am still hungry and you will see that when we fight. You'll definitely see an improved performance from me. I feel really strong. I'll show you everything on April 23.''
(on the brash-talking Darchinyan's vow to win by knockout)
"Vic Darchinyan can make any comment he would like to make. It's a free country and he has the right. (But) His words don't motivate me. I get my inspiration and my motivation from my family.
"Darchinyan is a great fighter but he has faded in his last couple of losses. Abner Mares put him at the door and I am going to put him out.
"The only thing Darchinyan has going for him is his power punch. I am a natural bantamweight; he is not.''
(his prediction on Agbeko-Mares)
"I have much respect for Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko because they are both great fighters. However, Abner Mares is a great friend of mine and I believe he will win.''
PROMOTER KEN THOMPSON
"Training in Colombia has done wonders for Yonnhy. I've never seen him more focused. He will show fight fans this on April 23 with an early KO. You can take that to the bank."
Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, are available online at Ticketmaster.com, and via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000. Tickets are also available at STAPLES Center Box Office.