Sharkie's Machine: Yonnhy Perez Wins Joseph Agbeko’s IBF Bantam Title in a Strangely Lopsided Decision in Nevada
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., Doghouse Boxing (Nov 1, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino /SHOWTIME  
Congratulations to the new IBF Bantamweight titlist, Yonnhy Perez (20- 0, 14 KO’s) for his outstanding performance against former titlist, Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (27-2, 22 KO’s). And congrats Agbeko for his best Halloween Costume ring entrance.

This was a hell of a fight. From the opening bell, it was non stop. Agbeko was the more aggressive and Perez was the slicker boxer, boxing outside and using his jab to set up his combinations. Perez was very good at counter punching and also showed a strong defense. Agbeko had to get inside to be effective and even when Perez didn’t comply; Agbeko forced his way inside and landed good shots. It was 12 action packed rounds of marathon punching and both men had had their moments. There were some low punches, a few warnings and some head butts, mostly attributed to Agbeko, who leads with his head and since Perez is taller and Agbeko likes to go to the body often, there’d be times a punch would stray low or his head would graze Perez’ head. The referee Robert Byrd did a good job keeping things honest but there were a few occasions where Perez suffered cuts to his forehead, compliments of Agbeko’s head movement.

It was interesting that after Perez head butted Agbeko in the tenth round, Agbeko turned to complain to the ref and forgot the golden rule in boxing, ‘Protect Yourself at All Times.’ Yonnhy Perez rightly jumped on Agbeko and landed three shots, two upstairs and one to the side of the body that saw Agbeko fall to a knee and was given a count. The fight seemed so close in my eyes that I figured that if Perez won a close decision, the knockdown would be the deciding factor.

Agbeko, the shorter man and often the busier of the two and effective at getting in range to score against the taller Perez. But Perez used his height in a way worthy of the respect and approval of Heavyweight Skyscraper Vitali Klitschko, as Perez stepped back, jabbed and offered up combinations in answer to Agbeko’s inside pressure.

There wasn’t a dull moment in this fight. The momentum was continuous and the shifts were so subtle, it could easily have gone either way in nearly every round save the tenth. How do you score a round where both answer each others punches and neither guy goes down? Clean punches, ring generalship, effective aggression and defense. Both guys were landing clean shots; both had good ring generalship and defense. This punch tally at the end of this fight may be one of the highest punch outputs for 2009, as both men were constantly throwing. At times, Agbeko was busier and at times, Perez landed the cleaner, more effective punches.

The scorecards at the end of the Agbeko Perez fight were as mysterious as a Vincent Price Halloween thriller with a senseless twist. This had to be one of the most exciting back and forth action fights all year and one might expect the official scores would be tight—but who am I kidding? Outside of the Promoters that pay the Judges, who ever has a clue as to what to expect from these people who are paid to score the fights? Considering that Agbeko entered the ring wearing a King Kong costume, chained to a Fay Dunaway look alike who led him to the ring, Yonnhy should’ve come in dressed as Gale Van Hoy, a Judge that would’ve scared the hell out of Agbeko and his visiting team.

After the scores were announced, the crowd cheered for their man, Yonnhy Perez. The corner of Agbeko looked stunned. Those were some crazy scores. In the end, I had this fight a Draw at 115 a piece. Both did well and aside from the knockdown in the tenth, neither appeared to have a particular edge. This great fight is an easy candidate for “Fight of the Year” honors because it was so close. How all three of the official Judges saw this fight so one sided in favor of one guy is utterly striking. Judge Bruxman had it 117-110, Jerry Roth had it 116-111 and Glen Trowbridge had it 117-110, all in favor of Yonnhy Perez. Yonnhy Perez is a great fighter and he had a good night but not that good. At times, he seemed to lack pop in the late rounds and if either guy looked winded in any round, it was Perez. Arguments can be made that Perez was luring Agbeko in but…what’s done is done. From a business perspective, a rematch would be lucrative, since this was a good, action packed event sure to sell tickets and boost ratings.

Agbeko said he wants a rematch, convinced that he won the fight. Perez was also sure he won the fight and by the scores posted by the Judges. Perez was calm, gracious and humble, crediting Agbeko for his toughness and for being a great fighter. He thanked his friends in Las Vegas and I had to assume he was referring to the Judges. When asked if he would give Agbeko a rematch, he said he would, and then he amended his statement to say that he is the fighter, and his promoter makes decisions about who he fights. A little “coach speak”? Maybe but Yonnhy Perez showed one thing is certain; he is one of the very best fighters at 118 pounds and there’s no controversy about that.

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