The four-man bantamweight tournament put together by Showtime will air live on December 18, meaning boxing fans will have some interesting decisions to make that night, and also assuring that the light heavyweight championship fight that night between Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins is headed to pay-per-view. Elias Nassar, the manager of Vic Darchinyan, told BoxingScene.com that the event will either be in Las Vegas or California.
The two fights on that night will see Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KO) take on Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KO), plus a rematch of a great fight from last year between Yonnhy Perez (20-0-1, 14 KO) and Joseph Agbeko (27-2, 22 KO). Agbeko has not fought since the loss to Perez last Halloween night. Earlier this year, Perez and Mares went to a competitive and entertaining draw in Los Angeles. Agbeko beat Darchinyan in July 2009. There is plenty of history, and these are definitely four of the best in the world at 118, if not the four best.
The winners will meet sometime in 2011.
Anyone have an early favorite here? I like Perez in the rematch with Agbeko, and I think I like Mares against Darchinyan if he can avoid the big punches, which he has the ability to do. Darchinyan always runs over a few guys and then people start forgetting he's not invincible, and in his two fights at 118, he's hardly been the steamroller he was at 112 or even 115. He found it rough sailing trying to hurt Agbeko, but he also just fought dumb in that one, and I felt he basically gave the fight away trying to score a spectacular knockout, abandoning his underrated and often underutilized boxing skills. If a relaxed Darchinyan shows up, he's got a good shot to win this thing, but that's what makes this mini-tournament so much fun. They all have a pretty good shot, and they all bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table.
As for the date, well...it is what it is, I suppose. The late-year Saturdays have filled up, and the only available Saturday after 12/18 is, of course, Christmas. Something was going to wind up double booked, and so far, we've gotten off fairly lightly. November 6 has Lopez-Marquez on Showtime, plus a Boxing After Dark on HBO, and those might wind up not airing head-to-head, or at least we can hope Showtime will be kind enough to schedule Lopez-Marquez as a 9pm show. That and the December 18 conflict are the only interfering dates, and the two networks have had far less of this in 2010 than in the past. And for all it matters, since the Pascal-Hopkins PPV is likely to have an "eh" sort of undercard anyway, you'll probably have the ability to watch the Showtime double-header, then still catch the main event (or even last two fights) of the card in Montreal.
I still say there would have been nothing wrong with putting the bantamweights on a special Friday night edition of Showtime Championship Boxing, but what do I know? I don't know what Showtime has on 12/17. Maybe another airing of Twilight.