The April 23 finals of the Showtime bantamweight tournament will pit Ghanaian veteran Joseph Agbeko against potential breakout star Abner Mares of Mexico in a fight that basically goes to determine the No. 2 man in the division, behind only pound-for-pound star Nonito Donaire.
Recently, Mares gave his thoughts on the fight, and talked about fighting Donaire in the future, which could be tricky given Donaire's promotional situation at the moment, and the fact that Mares fights under the Golden Boy banner. Agbeko has dreams, too, but they aren't about bantamweights.
"I'm thinking of moving up to featherweight to take on the big guys," he says. "I'm thinking of [Yuriorkis] Gamboa, [Juan Manuel] Lopez and I'm thinking of being in the league with them. After this fight, if I don't get any good competition then I'm going to move to featherweight. I want to fight them. I want to prove to the world that I'm the best."
Fighters often think of all the bigger fish they could be frying, and while it may seem half a pipe dream for King Kong Agbeko to consider a two-division jump to face the likes of Gamboa and Lopez, he's never backed down from challenges. Agbeko, promoted by Don King, has had some trouble finding consistently good fights, and sounds like he's ready to make that a thing of the past, even if it means taking a big risk at 126 pounds.
But don't take that to mean he's not focused on Mares. Agbeko is ready to prove he's the best bantamweight in the world and in this tournmanent.
"The fight with Vic was the only war that Mares has been through. I've been in a couple of wars, as far as boxing is concerned. No disrespect to [Mares] but I think I'm the better fighter. Against him, I've got better skills. There's [no] way that he can go through me.
"When I come to the fight prepared, no one can survive. When I fought Yonnhy Perez the first time, I wasn't fully prepared for that fight. Even though that was a very close fight, I didn't think I was going to lose. But a few head butts happened and it went to the favor of Yonnhy Perez and I lost the fight. In the second fight, I proved to the world that I'm the best bantamweight."
While Abner Mares is talked up as a young lion, Golden Boy's first real homegrown star with potential to become one of the best in the sport, Agbeko is just doing what he always does: heading to John's Boxing Gym in the Bronx, putting his head down, and getting ready for the fight. Agbeko may not have the power promoter or the overall upside of his upcoming foe, but he doesn't mind. He's coming to fight.
"I feel happy to be in the final of the tournament. The only prediction that I know is that I am going to come out of the ring as the winner of the night. I've really prepared for [Mares]. I don't know if he'll be able to take the strength and the skills that I bring to the ring. If he can take it, then I'm going to beat him unanimously. If he can't, it's going to be a knockout."
More photos of Agbeko in camp after the jump.
All photos by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME