Undefeated WBC Silver Bantamweight Champion Abner Mares and two-division titleholder Vic Darchinyan participated in an open media workout Tuesday at Westside Boxing Gym with Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions/ Mares’ promoter in attendance.
This Saturday, April 23, Mares and Darchinyan will compete in separate bouts in The Bantamweight Tournament Final: Winner Takes All live on Showtime at10:30 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
In the finals of the four-fighter, two-night tournament, Mares (21-0-1, 13 KOs), of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, will challenge defending champion Joseph Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs), of Accra, Ghana, for the IBF 118-pound title. Mares’ WBC Silver bantamweight belt will also be at stake in the 12-round bout.
Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, by way of Vanadzok, Armenia, and former IBF bantamweight champion Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs), of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., by way of Cartagena, Colombia, will clash in a key 12-round co-feature for the IBO Bantamweight World Title and a WBA Bantamweight final eliminator.
A replay of the dramatic Semifinal fights last Dec. 11 on Showtime will air this Friday, April 22, on SHO Extreme at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.
What they said Tuesday: Oscar De La Hoya (Mares’ promoter): “Abner is a hell of a story -- he’s living the American dream. His career was almost derailed with his eye injury and now he’ll be fighting in front of his hometown fans for a world title.
“He’s our first fighter that we’ve produced from the start. It’s a wonderful story and we’re crossing our fingers for him.”
Abner Mares: “He (Agbeko) does have a similar style to Mexican fighters – he comes forward and likes to fight. It’s a different style for an African fighter, but I think it benefits us because that’s what we’re used to. I think the key in the fight is going to be my jab. We have to fight an outside fight and keep my jab effective.
“This is the main event for a world title, and the whole tournament is on the line. It’s a big deal; it feels good to have people talk about you.
“I want to fight the top fighters in their prime so I can be recognized as the best. This tournament is helping me do that.
“I’ve seen Agbeko fight before and I think he’s two different fighters. He can brawl and he can box. We just need to make the fight our fight. I’m a technical fighter but I can brawl at any time. He’s more of a brawler. He boxed against Yonnhy (Perez) but I don’t see him doing that against us.
“The crowd adds to the excitement. They feed me energy and give me a second wind. I think that will be to my advantage.
“It would mean a lot for me and my family to win a championship in front of my hometown fans.
“This is a great division right now. We could either do a rematch with all the fighters in the tournament or face someone like (Nonito) Donaire. There are no bad fights in the tournament or the division.”
“It’s going to be tough for both of them. Vic doesn’t like to be pressed and Yonnhy is a pro at that. But, if Vic is able to land that left hand, I think Yonnhy is in trouble.’’
Vic Darchinyan: "I appreciate that people say I’m responsible for getting so many Armenians to go to fights in Southern California and other places, and I expect to see a lot of them waving flags and cheering for me on Saturday. But these people are just good boxing fans that like my style and know that I always give my best and put on exciting fights. If they didn’t like my style, or I made bad fights, they wouldn’t show up.
“I am very confident I will knock out Perez, destroy him. I feel stronger than I ever have. I will not slow down if the fight goes into the later rounds. I will not get tired. The last time, I made the weight a week before the fight. This time, I will make the weight on Friday.
“The last time, I fought stupid against Mares. I wanted to box more and showcase my skills. This time I’m going back to my old style of fighting. I am coming in to destroy.
“I hope the referee lets me fight. Against Mares, the ref was in my ear the whole fight: don’t do this, don’t do that, watch yourself here, watch yourself there. Mentally, he took me out of my fight.
“After this fight, I want to challenge for the title. I want a rematch against Mares or Donaire. For Donaire to say he doesn’t need to give me a rematch, after I gave him a shot at my title, just shows how much he is afraid of me and doesn’t want to fight.”
Tickets, priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, are on sale at Ticketmaster.com, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines (800) 745-3000 and at Staples Center Box Office. Doors at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live open at 4 p.m. PT. The first non-televised undercard fight starts at 5 p.m. PT.
The Bantamweight Tournament Final: Winner Takes All is promoted by Don King Productions, Gary Shaw Productions, Golden Boy Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions and is sponsored by Corona and DeWalt Tools.