Joseph Agbeko (27-1, 22 KOs), of Bronx, N.Y., by way of Accra, Ghana, and Yhonny 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 at 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.
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.”
Yonny Perez: “I want to thank everyone for making this what will be a night to remember in Las Vegas.”
Question: Joseph, why are you so confident you’re going to win this fight by knockout?
JA: “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.”
Q: What did the win over Silence Mabuza do for your confidence?
YP: “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.”
Q: Yonnhy, what do you think about Agbeko’s prediction of a knockout?
YP: “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.”
Q: How exciting was it to come out with a victory the way you did?
YP: “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.”
Q: Joseph, do you think South African boxers just talk a lot of trash?
JA: “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. “
YP: “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.”
Q: Joseph, was the win over Vic Darchinyan a big boost to your career?
JA: “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.”
Q: Was it a career defining fight for you?
JA: “Yeah, I believe that because Darchinyan was a very, very big win. It’s very big, it’s very respected. “
Q: Yonnhy, what kind of weaknesses do you see in Agbeko?
YP: “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.”
Q: Joseph, how has your life changed since beating Darchinyan?
JA: “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.”
Q: Has your motivation been just as high for this fight?
JA: “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.”
Q: How much do Azumah Nelson or Ike Quartey inspire or motivate you as a fighter from Accra, Ghana?
JA: “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. “
Q: Perez, how is fighting for your family motivation?
YP: “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.”