The King of Kong
Halloween treat: Yonnhy Perez dethrones Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko in classic; DeMarco kayos Alfaro
Ringside report and photos by Chris Cozzone
It might’ve been Halloween, but the only thing scary was the action between a Colombian cazadores in search of a title, and a bantamweight monster, who entered the ring in a gorilla suit, chained and led by a hot blonde, and left without his belt, a dozen whirlwind rounds later.
Yielding up this year’s gem, Treasure Island, in the first-ever fight card held there, saw one king toppled, one King return and another former king turn color commentator.
The ballroom at T.I. packed in the bodies for an intimate setting on the Showtime-televised, Don King and Gary Shaw-promoted “Halloween Thrilla.” Not only was it the first Vegas promotion in five years for former Sin City king Don King, but it marked his reunion with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who was added to Showtime’s crew of commentators.
In the main event of the eight-bout card, IBF Bantamweight Champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko, of Ghana, who rose to star level with his defeat of Vic Darchinyan in his last outing, was toppled from his throne by hungry Colombian, No. 1 Contender Yonnhy Perez.
With the opening bell, Agbeko launched himself at his challenger, who willingly traded shots. Once the war commenced, there was no let-up. Back and forth, up and down, in and out, the two slugged their way through crafty defenses, blasted away with relentless aggression and absorbed one another’s shots.
The continuous motion had to be a nightmare for any judge; it was further hindered by a monstrous glare from the low-hanging lights.
Up to the tenth round, the fight was a cyclonic rollercoaster ride, each round a near duplicate of the one before, with Perez proving himself the slicker fighter and Agbeko, the more aggressive. In the earlier rounds, the harder-hitting Agbeko worked his way in, and through, the guard of the taller Perez, but the Colombian proved the better counterpuncher and sharper jabber.
Neither fighter blemished the battle with a single inclination to clinch and, despite a few head clashes, while the two feverishly striking at close quarters, neither one voiced a complaint.
Until the telling tenth round, that is.
After a headbutt that had Agbeko turning his back to Perez to nurse the damage, the challenger took advantage of the situation by landing murderous shots to his wounded opponent. Two up top and one big left to the body folded the champion to the canvas. While Referee Robert Byrd counted, Agbeko rose to complain.
For many ringsiders, who had the fight at flip-a-coin status, the knockdown was looking like the decision-breaker.
When the fight resumed, Agbeko showed little damage, redoubling his efforts to win back the lost round. Working his way within range, he continued to slugging away but Perez, the better boxer, landed the cleaner, albeit less quantitative punches.
No one really had a clue who won. Both corners raised their fighters up on shoulders for victory posturing, but the expressions on faces in and around the ring said, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
The judges, however, had seen a definitive fight, for the scorecards were unanimous: 117-110 twice (Judges Glenn Trowbridge and Barry Druxman) and 116-111 (Jerry Roth), all for Perez.
Fightnews had it 114-113, for Perez, reserving the right to alter the numbers upon a replay without the glare of the lights.
“I knew I was winning the rounds and I deserved to get the victory,” said Perez, who sported twin gashes on his brow from the fight.
“I felt I was more consistent, more active and I pressed the fight throughout … I trained to throw a lot of punches. I know Agbeko likes to throw a lot of punches, so I knew I had to be better conditioned. All the hard work and preparation paid off. This is a dream come true.”
With the win, Perez keeps his record spotless, rising to 20-0, with 14 short ones.
Agbeko tastes defeat for the first time since 2004, falling to 27-2, 22 KOs.
“He head butted me in round ten,” the former champ complained after the fight. “I don’t think that was fair. The reply clearly shows what happened. I was fighting well to that point. I thought I was winning the fight. Perez seemed energized after being awarded the knockdown and I was never the same after his head hit mine. We will never know what would have happened had there not been a head butt.”
Perez, on the other hand, attributed the knockdown to a lack of stamina.
“I don’t think he was in good shape,” said Perez. “I think he went down to catch his breath.”
DeMarco makes his mark
In the co-main event, once-lost Antonio DeMarco, of Tijuana, made his mark on the lightweight division by picking up the WBC’s interim version of the belt and dropping Nicaraguan Jose Alfaro for a tenth-round stoppage.
Clearly the better boxer, and with the height, reach and size advantages on his side, DeMarco took control early, jabbing at the advancing Alfaro and setting up straight lefts.
The harder Alfaro pressed, the harder he was hit by DeMarco. In the second, the Nicaraguan was in trouble. Though hitting the canvas in a knockdown ruled a trip or slip, Alfaro rose on shaky legs and barely managed to finish the round.
To his credit, the more DeMarco punished him, the gamer Alfaro got. In the fifth, both landed hard shots – finally a big right landing for Alfaro – but DeMarco kept his game plan under control, jabbing, moving, and setting up big lefts.
By the sixth, DeMarco was breezing bombs through Alfaro, who was in trouble at the round’s end. DeMarco reversed the roles in the seventh, becoming the aggressor and driving Alfaro back but, one round later, the Nicaraguan, refusing to yield, returned to his futile hunt.
Though landing several overhand rights, Alfaro was on the short end of the punishment in the ninth. In the tenth, it was all over – after three knockdowns, Referee Joe Cortez finally stopped the fight, official time 2:07.
“I was a little surprised the referee let the fight go,” said DeMarco, now 23-1-1, 17 KOs. “At one point he turned around and I knew then it was only a matter of time.
“It’s impossible to describe the feeling I have inside me right now,” said an emotional DeMarco, now 23-1-1, 17 KOs. “My lifelong dream was to become the WBC world champion. This is the second happiest day of my life. Only the birth of my daughter comes first.”
Though now, technically, a champion, DeMarco’s worst day of his life may be on the horizon, for he is now the mandatory challenger for WBC's uninterim champion, Edwin Valero.
Alfaro ends a three-bout win streak, falling to 23-5, 20 KOs.
Austin says “Nighty-night” to “Touch of Sleep”
In a scheduled 12-round heavyweight bout for the WBC’s USNBC International strap, and an eliminator for Vitali Klitschko’s title, Ray “The Rainman” Austin, of Cleveland, took out Colorado hopeful DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson in round four.
As far as heavies go, the bout was high-action, with Austin taking control in round one. Driving Williamson back, Austin landed big rights until the last 40 seconds, when a counter right staggered Austin.
Despite hurting Austin and deaf to the cries of his corner to open up, Williamson was bullied through the second round. In the third, Williamson and Austin staggered one another, but the bigger rights rained down by “The Rainman” started to wear down Williamson.
In the fourth, a big right from Austin floored Williamson, who got up so dazed at nine, that Referee Russell Mora called it off at 2:37.
“DaVarryl was whuppin’ my ass in the first round,” said Austin, now 28-4-4, 18 KOs. “I appreciated it. He came to fight with no fear and no giving up. He came at me like a Mac truck.
“Later on, he dropped his head coming in to bring some action. That’s when I tagged him with the right uppercut, left hook, with the right hand behind it that ended the fight. I want another shot at a world title. I want Vitali Klitschko.”
Austin is now in line to face Oleg Maskaev to determine a mandatory for Klitschko.
Williamson, now 26-6, 22 KOs, said he felt the stoppage was quick.
“I need to stay off the canvas,” he said. “It is hard to plead your case, when you are down. I know I could have gone on.”
De La Rosa “King” over Arroyo
In a ten-round welterweight bout, “King” James De La Rosa, of San Benito, Tex., rose to 20-0 (12 KOs) might’ve outclassed and outsped Lenin “Volcano” Arroyo (20-11-1, 4 KOs), of Miami, but he couldn’t put the game foe away.
De La Rosa took control of the fight early, staggering Arroyo late in the first. Outclassing his opponent, De La Rosa went to the body in the second and third. It paid off in the fourth and fifth, when Arroyo was driven back with punishing body shots. In the sixth, Arroyo went down, but made it to the round’s end.
A stoppage was evident – but, somehow, Arroyo weathered the body punishment and forced De La Rosa to go the distance. In the eighth, there was a questionable knockdown for De La Rosa, and refusing to quit or back down, Arroyo actually came on strong in the final frame.
At the end of ten, two cards pitched a shutout, at 100-88, but the third had it 99-94, all for De La Rosa.
Stiverne TKOs Butler
In an eight-round heavyweight bout, Bername “B-Ware” Stiverne (18-1-1, 17 KOs), of Miami, Fla., spanked “Big Daddy” Jerry Butler (8-7-1, 8 KOs), of Bahamas, in six or seven rounds.
Despite his jelly roll physique, Butler proved quicker than he looks, but Stiverne’s stiff jabs and hooks to the body put him in control early on. Just when Butler was wilting, a discovered hole in the canvas – due to a busted board – delayed the action, giving Butler a second wind when the fight resumed.
The two traded shots in the fourth, both landing their best – hooks from Butler and rights from Stiverne – and in the fifth, Butler’s belly was battered again. Stiverne continued his punishment in the sixth until the ref called it off at 1:34, Butler on the short end of too much punishment.
The fight was announced as stopped in the seventh, though this reporter’s notebook had it the sixth.
Venezuela calls off “Shark Attack”
In the opening bout of the evening, Nelson Linares (19-0-1, 12 KOs), of Venezuela, took a chunk out of the career and heart of Armenian Archak “Shark Attack” Termeliksetian (16-8, 13 KOs).
Straight lefts from Linares punctuated the first while Termeliksetian fought tentatively. In the last 30 seconds of the second, the “Shark” was staggered by a left. In turtle mode, he survived the round.
The fight became increasingly easier for Linares, who added big right hooks to his arsenal in the third. After punishing his opponent in the fourth, Linares was given the TKO win when Termeliksetian told his corner he’d had enough.
Santana edges Gonzalez
In a six-round lightweight bout, Cuban Angelo “La Cobra” Santana (7-0, 4 KOs) (barely) kept his record squeaky clean with a close decision over Miguel “Silky Smooth” Gonzalez (6-2, 6 KOs), of Cleveland.
The Cuban southpaw outhustled Gonzalez in the first, but the Clevelander took the fight to Santana in the second. Round three was close, both going to the body, but Gonzalez may have edged the round with his aggression.
Santana was less willing to trade in the third, hitting on the run, giving the round to Gonzalez. After taking off the fifth round, Gonzalez made the final stanza close.
All three judges saw the fight 58-56, for Santana.
Quintero closes the show
Junior lightweight Marvin “Cachorro” Quintero (17-2, 13 KOs), of Tijuana, had the impossible task of entertaining a shuffling-out crowd, in coming after such a thrilling main event. In his sixer against Colombian Walter Estrada (34-11, 24 KOs), however, Quintero produced.
Not only did Quintero pull out a show-stopping finish, but he did it quickly, giving the remainder of the Perez-Agbeko, desensitized crowd just what was needed.
Round one was somewhat tactical, Quintero the busier and Estrada, trying to counter. Early in the first, a big right drooped Estrada, who attempted to rise, but could not get his legs on steady ground.
Official time was :25.
It was Estrada’s third kayo loss in a row, and sixth loss in seven bouts. Quintero bounces back from a loss in July.
Return of the King(s)
With former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson added to the staff of Showtime’s commentary crew, the stage was set for a reunion with his former promoter, Don King.
“I never said anything bad about Mike for all these years because I knew we would get back together someday,” King said at the end of the night. “Reunited, and it feels so good.”
Tyson was equally thankful.
“All things pass and I just felt it was time to mend fences with Don,” he said.
Tyson spent his most accomplished years under King to win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles.