This coming weekend boxing fans get quite a treat with a plethora of fights to choose from. This article will focus on the return of the Super Bantamweight King Guillermo Rigondeaux facing off against the hardened pro Joseph Agbeko.
There is a fantastic matchup between rising prospect Glen Tapia, who is vying to become a contender, and always dangerous James Kirkland, which will serve as the co-feature for the HBO broadcast from Atlantic City.
Much has been stated or spewed about Guillermo Rigondeaux’s performance the night he did the unthinkable and beat than Top 5 P4P member Nonito Donaire.
Some of the top writers in the sport rained down on the Cuban’s parade for not having enough excitement or action in his victory. Many including Bob Arum labeled it as horrible bordering on torture to watch the whole fight in one sitting.
The biggest complaint was the number of punches thrown or not thrown by Rigondeaux the natural counterpuncher. It seemed not enough was said or written about the lack of action coming from Nonito Donaire.
After all he was the man coming forward in the fight and it takes two to tango so both men should be held responsible.
No matter where you stand on the issue Rigondeaux has struggled to find an opponent to fight that HBO would ok and he could get paid handsomely for.
(Queue the guy in the gorilla mask.)
And that man who will be wearing the mask on his walk to the ring is Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko a fighter that made his presents known in 2011 when he defeated Vic Darchinyan for the IBF Bantamweight Title.
After that victory Agbeko split wins with Yohnny Perez and had back to back battles with Abner Mares, the first encounter being marred by controversy from excessive low blows by Mares.
Agbeko took a much needed break from boxing lasting a few months short of 2 years. He returned to the ring in March from his home country of Ghana.
A Leo Santa Cruz offer was on the table but Agbeko like he always does went for the more difficult style matchup when he took the fight with Guillermo. To be fair I don’t know the amount of money that was offered for Santa Cruz and Leo is a whole different beast to deal with for Agbeko.
Honestly speaking, I hope Agbeko received a substantial more to face ‘Rigo’ rather than Santa Cruz because his style is much more applicable to Leo’s rather than the laser like counter punching of ‘Rigo’.
Regardless it’s too late to harp on the past with the fight now drawing near and lucky for us and ‘Rigo’, this fight will give the entertainment value that he needs to become more known and respected.
I use the word respect because there is a fairly large portion of fans in this sport who only want to see knockouts. If as a fighter your playing it safe you will be in line for a verbal assault by scribes, on twitter, and of course on posts in the boxing forums.
Let’s not forget that come forward fighters who finally get out boxed and in the process look bad get similar distain from plenty of fans.
Here is my point.
It wasn’t that long ago boxing fans had jumped off the Cuban’s bandwagon after a dreadful outing against Ricardo Cordoba, a long lanky fighter who gave the shorter ‘Rigo’ fits creating a very ugly fight.
Fast forward to his next fight four months later and the boxing world went crazy over his 1st round destruction of unbeaten Willie Casey and shortly after that knocking out Rico Ramos.
Joseph Agbeko has a shot in this fight if he chooses to fight with his head and not his balls.
Agbeko has a great jab and underrated hand speed to go along with a sturdy chin.
He also has a great work rate something that will come in handy as long he doesn’t overdo meaning be busy but be smart.
When he has that jab working he loves to throw hooks in combination to the head and body. Speaking of his hook, in the pocket he will exchange with both hands but can also counter and time very well with it.
The negative about throwing some many hooks is he tends to get too wide and leans or lunges in far too often for a slick boxer like the one his will be facing on Saturday night.
When on the inside he can do great work after landing a combo he moves laterally or resets, while other times you will see him falling for the trap of a good scrap something that got him into trouble in his fights with Mares and Perez.
The style and game plan he used against Darchinyan was Agbeko at his finest. Keeping his opponent guessing staying busy not reaching timing Vic as he tried to overwhelm Agbeko with his power.
Rigo and Vic however are miles apart like Cuba is to Australia when it comes to style.
Rigondeaux may care more now about the boo birds but in the past has been able to stay focused as he did in the Donaire fight.
There is a chance that Rigo lets the pressure for more blood and guts get to him and in a fight like this would be a very big mistake.
Trying to land one shot at a time is Guillermo’s pace using a fighter’s aggressive nature against them. He can also pot shot while on the move making it near impossible to catch up and if you can catch up can you hit him clean.
Joseph Agbeko is a very solid fighter who may be barley past his prime or just plain rusty having only 1 fight in well over 2 years. Agbeko comes into this fight as a very live underdog at 8-1 odds to win.
I hate to state that Agbeko has no chance because I respect him as a fighter and he has given fight fans plenty to cheer and get excited about.
When push comes to shove though, Agbeko presents an opportunity for Guillermo Rigondeaux and HBO to rebrand him as a fighter that has power to go along with elite level skill and with the right matchmaking much of what has been talked about will be not forgotten until he stinks out the joint in a rematch with Nonito Donaire or some other fighter he faces who looks to counter like him.
My official prediction is Guillermo Rigondeaux by late T.K.O. stoppage or unanimous decision.
(Side Note) Normally I would never pick Agbeko to loss by stoppage. The fact that he looked so bad in the second fight with Mares, had some health issues before that, and ring rust makes me think he won’t be at his best.
The co-feature fight pits uneven rising prospect Glen Tapia against the ever dangerous James Kirkland. Tapia has given glimpses of both bad and good on his way up the ladder at 154 and only time will tell if he bite of more that he can chew with Kirkland.
Kirkland has returned with Trainer Ann Wolfe who we know will have him physically ready to with stand the punishment that Tapia has planned.
This is about a 60-40 fight and I’m picking Glen Tapia to win a brutal fight at times while other times sloppy with both men running on low gas tanks when it’s all said and down.
If it weren’t for the long layoff I would pick Kirkland I just don’t know what to expect from him mentally and rust wise.
That said I see both fighters being hurt and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they both kiss the canvas.
The opening bout of the broadcast will be Middleweight Contender Matthew Macklin squaring off against Prospect Lamar Russ.