Agbeko (27-1, 22 KOs), of Bronx, N.Y., by way of Accra, Ghana, and Perez (19-0, 17 KOs), of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., via Cartagena, Colombia, participated in a media conference call on Tuesday as they prepare for their world championship showdown on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast). In the co-feature, WBC No. 1-ranked lightweight Antonio DeMarco (22-1-1, 16 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, will meet hard-hitting former WBA 135-pound champion Jose Alfaro (23-4, 20 KOs), of Nagarote, Nicaragua. Both fights are 12-rounders.
Defending IBF bantamweight champion Agbeko has boldly predicted a knockout over undefeated and IBF No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Perez when they meet on Halloween.
What the fighters and promoters had to say on Tuesday:
ALAN HOPPER: We’ve got Joseph King Kong Agbeko coming off a career-defining win over Raging Bull Vic Darchinyan and Yonnhy Perez served notice on the bantamweight division with a tremendous win over Silence Mabuza.
To add spice to this fight, King Kong announced last week he will win by knockout; which caused a cautionary response from Perez.
And just this week, King Kong found out Yonnhy was planning a workout at his hometown L.A. gym in Santa Fe Springs on Thursday, and now Agbeko has announced he will “crash the party” by participating in the workout as well.
Those of you in L.A. are encouraged to attend this special media workout on Thursday where both fighters will be present. We’ll be servicing a media alert on this after the call, but so you Los Angelenos know, Perez will begin his work out at noon at the Santa Fe Springs Activity Center—followed by a photo op with both fighters—and then Agbeko will begin his workout. Lunch will be served to the media we’ve learned from Marylyn Aceves…
Oh, one last thing, I’ll be getting a media fight week schedule out to you by Friday, but I did want you to know the final press conference for this event will take place next Wednesday at Treasure Island, with Don King, Gary Shaw and the fighters inside their famous Pirate Ship on the Las Vegas strip! Another first we are all looking forward to.
DON KING: “This is a first at Treasure Island. Treasure Island is a great place. You can go on a treasure hunt there. You can win your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
“It’s going to be King Kong, the eighth wonder of the world, coming to Las Vegas. It’s going to be a super sensational evening of boxing and it’s going to be a terrific, terrific gathering there and I’m just delighted to be a part of this great promotion because it’s history in the making.”
GARY SHAW: “I have all the world of confidence in Yonnhy Perez. I believe that on Saturday night, Oct. 31, he will blow Agbeko out of the ring. And I will blow Don King off of that pirate ship at the press conference. It’s a great doubleheader.”
“I really believe these are two great fights. Treasure Island bought themselves two great fights and one great event. I look forward to seeing the look-alikes for Don King on Saturday night. Saturday night, look for Yonnhy Perez to blow Agbeko out of the ring.”
JOSEPH AGBEKO: “I’d like to congratulate Yonnhy for his victory over Silence Mabuza. He really did well. I’m expecting a good fighter, he’s undefeated. I was once undefeated, and I know how difficult it is. He feels confident because he has never been beaten before. But, I want everyone to know that he’s going to get his first defeat on Oct. 31. It’s going to be a knockout.”
YONNHY PEREZ: “I want to thank everyone for making this what will be a night to remember in Las Vegas.”
Joseph, why are you so confident you’re going to win this fight by knockout?
AGBEKO: “I’m so confident because Yonnhy Perez is a good fighter. He can come forward, he can go backward. Fighting a very good fighter is always difficult. It makes you work harder. Yonnhy Perez can definitely not stay in there with me. He’s definitely going to get stopped.”
What did the win over Silence Mabuza do for your confidence?
PEREZ: “Of course it was a boost of confidence, but one thing that everyone needs to be aware of is that my confidence didn’t come just from that fight. I have my confidence in my preparation and I’m confident every time I step in the ring, no matter who I’m facing. Beating Mabuza was a great deal for me, but I had confidence in my power and my ability even before I stepped in the ring, and the same thing is going to happen on Oct. 31.”
Yonnhy, what do you think about Agbeko’s prediction of a knockout?
PEREZ: “I’m ready for any type of battle to happen in the ring. I don’t want to make a prediction of my own, but as far as what Agbeko said coming into this fight and predicting a knockout, it’s OK. That’s why I live in this country, there’s freedom of speech. He can say whatever he wants about any issue. I’ve traveled to Africa, and I know how the fighters of that continent are. I know they can talk more than what they can actually do in the ring. He shouldn’t spit up in the air because all that’s going to fall right on his face.”
How exciting was it to come out with a victory the way you did?
PEREZ: “I was extremely happy. I was thrilled that I was able to win. But, what I remember the most was going into the 12th round and knowing that it was a very difficult fight for me going throughout the first 11 rounds. It was a very close fight and I knew that I only had one opportunity, which was the last round. I asked God for strength to help me. He was the only one who knew how hard I had worked to get to that point. He knew how tough it was to get to that opportunity. I remembered my kids back in Colombia and all the needs that my family have. I went out there with all my faith and trust in my preparation, and the result, as you all know, obviously I was very happy that I had the opportunity and the chance to beat Mabuza in South Africa.”
Joseph, do you think South African boxers just talk a lot of trash?
AGBEKO: “I don’t think African boxers talk more than what they do. Perez has to know that King Kong is different from the other African boxers because I deliver. I’m going to deliver what I say. “
PEREZ: “I understand that. He’s probably not like Silence Mabuza, but he’s probably returning to his African roots. I’ve seen how all the fighters are from Africa, I’ve also fought a lot of them in the amateurs. I know how they fight. If he says that he’s going to deliver, that’s great. I just hope that he comes ready for Oct. 31. He’s not facing a nobody, he’s fighting a real, future champion. He’s not fighting his wife, he’s fighting a real man.”
Joseph, was the win over Vic Darchinyan a big boost to your career?
AGBEKO: “My dream is to become a unified world champion. I want to become the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world. My dream is to defeat every boxer that comes my way, not just Vic Darchinyan, not just Luis Perez, not just Yonnhy Perez. But my dream is to win every fight that comes my way. I’m ready for the world and I’m ready to become No. 1 pound-for-pound in this game someday. That’s what I always prepare for.”
Was it a career defining fight for you?
AGBEKO: “Yeah, I believe that because Darchinyan was a very, very big win. It’s very big, it’s very respected. “
Yonnhy, what kind of weaknesses do you see in Agbeko?
PEREZ: “I was in Florida when he fought Vic Darchinyan. He fought with a lot of heart. He did have a great performance, and he obviously beat Darchinyan with ease. It would have been an embarrassment if he didn’t beat Darchinyan with ease, because Vic was a guy moving up in weight from 115 to 118. He showed he has the heart of a champion and I know he is a great champion. As far as any weakness I’ve seen, I’ve actually seen what he does well, which he is a very good boxer. But, I’m going to keep all those weaknesses I’ve seen on him on my own. I will keep those and reserve those for myself. We’ll try to expose those, but those are things I’ll keep to myself and I’ll try to use on Oct. 31.”
Joseph, how has your life changed since beating Darchinyan?
AGBEKO: “I’m working very hard. I’ve found that when you work very hard, you get very good results. Because of that, I’ve been working hard for any fighter to come my way.
“My focus is to become No. 1 pound-for-pound one day. That’s my dream. That’s my focus, and I’m working toward it.”
Has your motivation been just as high for this fight?
AGBEKO: “Yonnhy Perez wants to beat me. He’s a very good, undefeated fighter. I love when I’m fighting people like that because people want to think that nobody can defeat them because they’ve won all their fights. I love it when it comes to that because I always want to do something that people think nobody can do.”
How much do Azumah Nelson or Ike Quartey inspire or motivate you as a fighter from Accra, Ghana?
AGBEKO: “Azumah and Ike inspire me and are very good champions of Ghana. I always look up to them and they always advise me. They’ve been there before and they were able to make it, too. They teach me what to do and they always point me in the right direction. I also want to become like them. “
Perez, how is fighting for your family motivation?
PEREZ: “My motivation is to let me kids know that being in a professional sport is the cleanest way to have a decent life. I have sacrificed a lot for them. I know why I do it, and it’s so they can have a better life in Colombia.”
Don, what’s it like to return to the city where you’ve promoted so many great fights? And how would you compare Agbeko to some of the great African champions?
KING: “First of all, I really never left Las Vegas. I’m always there. But, when I found a guy name Phil Ruffin…who is able to give the people what they want, that’s not so corporate and can be more human, then I came back and worked with him to be able to bring back the glory of yesteryear back into Las Vegas again.
“I think that Agbeko is on the way to greatness. He’s already a great champion. When he defeated Darchinyan, that was a great event because everyone had Vic as the man. He was the best and this, that and the other….You’ve got a great champion in King Kong Agbeko and he’s growing leaps and bounds. The boxing world will be proud of him. He’s a great fighter no matter where he came from. This guy is a tremendous gladiator. He stays right in there, he’s a great boxer. He moves, he thinks when he’s fighting. I think he’s just fabulous, like Azumah and Quartey. It’s a triple thing now. They’re all coming out to work together, but he’s going to exemplify himself and establish himself as the great champion that he is. It’s going to be a great fight on the 31st, I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation. I think everybody in the boxing world will recognize him after he beats Yonnhy Perez. It’s going to be tremendous.”
What’s it like to get back into the ring after just four months since your last appearance?
AGBEKO: “I’m happy that I’m coming back very quickly. Boxing is my life, boxing is my food. Boxing is my everything. I’m going to always be a fighter and win all my titles. I wish I could fight everyday. I’m very, very happy that I’m so soon and I thank my promoter for getting this very quickly.”
Yonnhy, when did you start thinking about a title shot?
PEREZ: “That’s why I have my promoters. I knew that I was highly rated in a lot of the organizations. I was just waiting for an opportunity and a shot. Thanks to God that I was able to do that. That obviously opened the door to this opportunity to fight for a world title against Joseph Agbeko.”
Joseph, do you strive to be like Azumah Nelson or Ike Quartey?
AGBEKO: “They are good champions from Ghana. They are the fighters that opened up the way for us. I would like to tell the world that they are always motivating me and pushing me to go higher. I’m trying and working hard to carve up my own destiny, to be No. 1 pound-for-pound.”
Don, can you tell us a little bit about what it took to get boxing into Treasure Island?
KING: “Let me say this, Phil Ruffin is the man. He’s the man that came up with the hand shake and convinced me to come out and brand the place. They’ve never had a boxing match before. They have a great roof-quarter, we may do a great show there, a stellar satellite show right off the roof of Treasure Island. With the pirate ships and the sirens, I figure it has all the elements that will make just a great, great, fantastic show that will take place. I’m just happy to bring Vegas back, to the extent of giving them the excitement. It’s the 35 Anniversary of the Rumble in the Jungle, almost to the hour….I think the Treasure Island is going to become my destination where many people can come and have the excitement of being No. 1…That was the spirit and the feeling of Vegas, which we have to restore again because we’ve sort of lost our way.
“Las Vegas always exemplified and personified getting rich and having the opportunity to win whatever you want to win. Let’s take your luck to the Treasure Island and bring home a barrel of money. “
Yonnhy, can you talk about turning pro relatively later?
PEREZ: “All the traditions that I had over there, it’s a huge difference. People handle their lives in a completely different way than I’m used to in Colombia. It was really rough in the beginning. I did, in fact, start my professional career late. But that was due to the fact that I was in the Colombian National Army. I have support in the amateurs as a boxer and being part of the military. I did retire from the military with honors, I actually didn’t want to retire early, and that allowed me to actually have a small pension and a house which we rent in Colombia. That’s the reason why I started my career late. Also, I made a decision to come over to the United States because I had an opportunity to do so through my managers. Now, I have an opportunity to fight for a world title. I couldn’t do anything professionally in Colombia because I had no support over there. I knew I had to come over to America to move on with my professional boxing career so I could be of use to my family and make money for them.”
Joseph, do you think you’ll go a little out of your way to beat Yonnhy Perez?
AGBEKO: “I respect Yonnhy Perez a lot. I predict a knockout because I know I’m going to knock him out.”
Yonnhy, do you think he is disrespecting you?
PEREZ: “He might be underestimating me a little bit, or he might be using strategy. He’s probably trying to make me lose my concentration. But, I’m an old guy. I’ve been in this business for a while. I am prepared to fight him and I’m ready for whatever he wants to bring to the table and whatever he brings into the ring on Oct. 31. I’m not an innocent, young amateur kid. I’ve been around the block, and I’m not concerned with his predictions.”
Where you impressed with his performance against Darchinyan?
PEREZ: “I wasn’t really impressed. I was actually a little bit disappointed. I thought that being the bigger man he should have been able to handle him a little bit better. It’s like me moving up to 122 or 126 and trying to beat a bigger man, which, in reality, it doesn’t work that way. So, I was not that impressed. “
Are you planning on impressing Yonnhy?
AGBEKO: “This fight is going to be an enjoyable fight for me. I’m a confident fighter and I really enjoy it when I fight another confident fighter. It’s going to be a very enjoyable fight for me.”