SAN DIEGO, December 6, 2013 – Skilled defensive fighters often put together impressive records, but fail to thrill boxing fans who want to see rock ‘em sock ‘em action in the ring.
HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” from Atlantic City features one of those talented tacticians, Cuban super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0-0, 8 KOs) against Joseph Agbeko (29-4-0, 22 KOs) of Ghana. Rigondeaux’s WBA and WBO championship titles are on the line.
Rigondeaux is coming off his decision win over Nonito Donaire, which made believers in his talent out of many skeptics. Agbeko has only fought once in the last two years, after losing two decisions in a row to Abner Mares.
Rigondeaux is an accomplished amateur champion and two time Olympic gold medalist. He is a pure skills boxer, perhaps the best in modern boxing today. Some fans love it, but many more fans dislike it, finding Rigondeaux’s fights boring. Agbeko knows this, and he will do his best to draw Rigondeaux into mixing it up with him. “I want to ask Rigo to come out as a fighter and not a boxer. Let’s go out and kill each other and have a good fight and give fans what they want to see,” Agbeko said in the final news conference.
Rigondeaux is far too disciplined to let this happen. “I’m not one that likes to be in front of cameras, but I’m ready to go and I’m ready to fight,” Rigondeaux responded.
What the main event lacks in the way of fireworks, the two televised undercards could make up for it.
Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin (29-5-0, 20 KOs) will take on prospect Lamar Russ (14-0-0, 7 KOs) of North Carolina. Nope, never heard of him either. Macklin fell victim to a wicked body shot knockout by Gennady Golovkin in June. Prior to this fight, he lost a decision to middleweight star Sergio Martinez in a fight many observers thought he won (including me). Russ, a late substitute in this bout, has a four inch height advantage against Macklin; whether it helps the inexperienced fighter or not is something to watch.
James Kirkland (31-1-0, 27 KOs) comes back from a 20-month layoff to face Glen Tapia (20-0-0, 12 KOs) in a catchweight contest at 156 pounds. This was Kirkland’s third lengthy break from the ring, but this time it wasn’t due to being in prison like from 2003 to 2006, and 2009 to 2011. He was riding out a contract with his former promoter, Golden Boy. Kirkland is now signed with 50 Cent.
Kirkland has returned to his original long time trainer, Ann Wolfe, one of the few women trainers in the sport. Wolfe has a reputation for tough love training methods, sometimes unorthodox, all aimed at making the actual fight seem easy compared to the training regime. Wolfe says Kirkland is in excellent shape and focused.
Kirkland has a lot of ring rust to shake off, but he’s done it before. Tapia is younger, bigger, and eager, but he’s also inexperienced compared to Kirkland. It all depends which version of James Kirkland shows up: the powerhouse, the has-been, or some completely new version we haven’t seen before. Many people will be rooting for Kirkland to succeed after all the turmoil in his life.
All fighters made weight on Friday for the Atlantic City event.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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