Thursday’s press conference started as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, who Don King worked with promoting the historic Jacksons Victory Tour in 1984 that reunited the Jackson 5 and brokered a colossal endorsement deal between Jackson and Pepsi. King plans a traditional 10-count and a video tribute to honor the King of Pop
But, once it was the fighters’ turn to speak, things turned ugly. What began as a few, innocent verbal shots escalated into a shouting match between the Agbeko and Darchinyan camps. While Thursday’s press conference was tense, it proved that one thing was for certain: Saturday’s main event is going to be a real “Thriller.”
Two of the pound-for-pound hardest hitting boxers, both main event fighters possess outrageous knockout percentages. Agbeko (26-1, 22 KOs) of Accra, Ghana, now fighting out of Bronx, N.Y., has knocked out over 81 percent of his opponents with Darchinyan (32-1, 26 KOs), from Sydney, Australia, by way of Armenia, is right behind him at 76 percent.
Tickets to the event, priced at $75, $40 and $25 and $10 (with a limited number of golden circle seats available at $200), can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, online at www.ticketmaster.com or BankAtlantic Center box office. The event is promoted by Don King Productions in association with BankAtlantic Center. Agbeko vs. Darchinyan and DeMarco vs. Adjaho are co-promoted with Gary Shaw Productions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-feature will pit two top-10 ranked 135-pound contenders in the biggest fight of their lives when Antonio DeMarco (21-1-1, 15 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, takes on West African native Anges “Baby Face” Adjaho (25-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round bout. The winner of Saturday’s scheduled 12-rounder becomes the WBC lightweight mandatory challenger to defending champion Edwin Valero.
What the fighters and promoters had to say on Thursday:
JOSEPH KING KONG AGBEKO: “King Kong in the movie dies in New York City, but King Kong will live in the ring on Saturday night.
“They call him ‘Raging Bull.’ After this fight, they’re going to call him “Raging Bulls(p)it.”
“I wish this fight was today. When is July 11 going to come? I’ve been looking at this date on my calendar for weeks, months. Get ready. I’m going to give you the worst beating of your career.”
“Vic, this time you’re going to fight the king, the king of the ring, King Kong.
“I respect you. You’re a great boxer. But, because I respect you, I’m going to beat you real hard.
“This fight is going to give me another opportunity to show the world how good I really am.
“On Saturday night, Vic’s fans are going to be very surprised. But I’m not going to be surprised and neither will Vic. He knows he’ll get beat on Saturday night.
VIC DARCHINYAN: “I thank Don King for bringing me a new belt. Don, you’ll be sorry for your boxer in the ring on Saturday night.
“You’re going to see a very exciting fight. I always go for the knockout. Decisions in boxing are boring, so I will knock him out.
“Don and the crowd will hear my punches and you’ll feel sorry for him (Agbeko).
“I keep my promises. I’m going to slow him down, punish him and knock him out.
“Your friend (Anges Adjaho) said women in Africa talk a lot. Well, you just proved that here.”
DON KING: “This event is dedicated to Michael Jackson. Michael was the best entertainer of all time, and what better way to honor his memory than an amazing night of boxing like this.”
GARY SHAW: “I’m glad Don is dedicating this fight to Michael Jackson, because these fights are going to be ‘Thrillers.’ You could play MJ’s music in the background to these fights and you wouldn’t miss a beat.
“We also want to dedicate this fight to the late Alexis Arguello (former world champion boxer who died last week). He was a great fighter. He was a true credit to Nicaragua and a true credit to boxing. Vic wants to dedicate this fight to the memory of Alexis.‘’
ANTONIO DEMARCO: “First, I’d like to thank SHOWTIME for this opportunity.
“It’s a dream to be on the same card as Vic Darchinyan again. Not many people know this, but we have the same birthday.
“I know I’ll come out of this fight victorious. I’ve prepared well for it and I’m going to win it for my wife and young daughter.
“I’d like to send my condolences to the families of Alexis Arguello and Michael Jackson. ‘’
ANGES ADJAHO: “No one from my country (Benin, in Africa) has ever fought for the WBC title. The winner of Saturday’s fight becomes the mandatory challenger for the WBC lightweight title. I have a huge opportunity to take a step toward history on Saturday night.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I plan on taking advantage of it.
“In Africa, women are known for talking a lot, so I’m going to sit down and stop talking.”
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING announcers Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein will call the action with Jim Gray reporting from ringside. The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins Jr., with Bob Dunphy directing.