There were two excellent fights last night in the hotly anticipated bantamweight tournament from the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington with the favored boxer in each bout coming up on the losing end.
Yhonny Perez and Joseph Agbeko rematched their IBF title clash of October, 2009 in which Perez dethroned Agbeko and this time the roles were reversed.
While Agbeko had tried to slug his way to victory last year, last night he surprised Perez by boxing. The Ghana native was masterful in pulling this off successfully and controlled the pace of the bout.
Perez managed to turn the tide in the seventh by closing distance but Agbeko wouldn't buckle as the two waged a thrilling slugfest. The next round saw Agbeko go back to boxing and used the strategy to close out the last five frames.
For his efforts, Agbeko was awarded a solid unanimous decision by marks of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113, regaining the IBF crown and improving to 28-2 (22).
Despite a hard effort, Perez suffers his first loss as a professional, falling to 20-1-1 (14).
In the co-feature, Vic Darchinyan and Abner Mares waged a barn burner over all twelve scheduled rounds. Darchinyan had vowed to KO Mares and things looked to be going the Australian based southpaw's way when he dropped his Mexican rival in the second but Mares returned the favor in the seventh.
But Darchinyan largely boxed in this contest, and that surprising tactic won him a good number of rounds but Mares' approach of focusing on the body was what proved to be the winning strategy.
By the later rounds, the midsection assault had worn down Darchinyan and Mares took the final frames, securing two of the cards, 115-111 and 114-112 against Darchinyan's 115-111, to win the split decision verdict.
Mares, 21-0-1 (13), also wins Darchinyan's IBO belt and the vacant WBC silver strap while Darchinyan's CV now stands at 35-3-1 (27).
As part of the ongoing tournament, Mares will challenge Agbeko in 2011.