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SUMMER SIZZLER: KING’S TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON


PhilBoxing.com




Orlando, Florida – Last Saturday, July 11, this writer decided to interrupt his medical conference in this vacation paradise to witness Showtime World Championship boxing entitled “Summer Sizzler” at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, as world renowned promoter Don King paid tribute to the King of Pop who passed away June 25th at the age of 50. At the event, Don King looked melancholic and reserved, unlike his usual flamboyant style, though the crowd in attendance was estimated at 9,227.

Don King promoted the final, historic Jackson's Victory Tour in 1984 and brokered a sponsorship deal with Pepsi for Michael Jackson. Don King is very intimate with the Jackson Family who requested him to fly to L.A. to be at the memorial services. He could never forget what the legendary Michael Jackson once told him, “Music is the ribbon that ties humanity together.”

The main event was the IBF Bantamweight championship showdown between Joseph King Kong Agbeko (27-1, 22 KOs) and Jr. Bantamweight titlist Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan (32-2-1, 26 KOs). The Raging Bull had knocked out Filipino boxers Diosdado Gabi, Glenn Donaire and Federico Catubay but got a controversial draw with Z Gorres. However, 2 years ago, the “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire caught him with a one punch (left hook) knock out that had indeed been haunting him up to now.

At 4:15 pm, in the Crown Plaza Sawgrass Mills Hotel where Team Darchinyan (Jay Fares, Angelo Hyder, Vazgen Badilyin) were billeted, this writer became acquainted with Darchinyan’s manager, Elias Nasser. During an exclusive interview with him, he stated, “We have prepared well for this fight against Agbeko…against Nonito Donaire, it was interrupted preparation…Vic probably took Nonito lightly…we can’t make the same mistake again… and Vic will never fight Nonito unless he (Nonito) has a title at stake… and of course, the conditions are right.”

At 4:45 pm, this writer proceeded to the venue to obtain his boxing media credentials. The first bout promptly started at 5 pm with the undercards. Like in past events this writer have seen, some proved great while others were not evenly matched. Don King Production knows how to put up an entertaining boxing show. Michael Jackson’s blockbuster songs “Billy Jean” and “Thriller” were played several times during the breaks. The ambiance was upbeat and the mood festive.

By 7 pm, the venue was getting crowded. A couple of kids entered the ring dressed like Michael Jackson and began to dance to the music of the “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time.” A musician playing an electric guitar in front of the color guards performed the US National Anthem.

A moment of silence with the 10-count bell toll was made to honor the passing of 3 great champions in their field - Alexis Arguello, Arturo Gatti and Michael Jackson.

Around 9 pm, the televised co-feature championship bout between WBC # 1 and #2 Lightweight contenders Antonio Demarco (22-1-1, 16 KOs) from Tijuana, Mexico and Anges “Baby Face” Adjaho (25-2, 14 KOs) of West Africa began. When Adjaho was floored, he failed to get up before the referee finished the count. He complained a bit too late of a foul. Demarco was declared winner by 9th Rd KO, thus becoming the mandatory challenger to WBC Lightweight titlist Edwin Valero from Venezuela.


In the WBC Lightweight Eliminator bout, Antonio Demarco (R) became mandatory challenger after TKO wins over Anges Adjaho (L). (Photo by Dr. Allan Recto).

At or about 10:30 pm, Vic Darchinyan made his ring entrance carrying the Armenian flag for the first time in a fight. Fight fans normally see him with an Australian flag. There were a few of his fans that flew in from “the land down under.” IBF Bantamweight Champ Joseph King Kong Agbeko calmly entered the ring with a big smile in his face, wearing a single white glove, in memory of Michael Jackson.

After the introductions by Jimmy Lennon, Jr., the fight ensued with good but wild exchanges. The champ Joseph Agbeko would throw jabs and jumped in with his right hand. Darchinyan, a southpaw, wasn’t afraid to throw power shots, either with left hooks or straight body shots. A clash of heads occurred in Rd 3 causing a cut in Darchinyan’s left eyebrow. Bleeding was controlled well by his corner.

In the 7th Rd, Agbeko fell to the canvas, which the referee ruled as a knockdown. He complained that it was a slip. In the 10th Rd, Darchinyan’s face was messed up with blood due to another cut in the right eyebrow. Agbeko got the better of the exchanges due to the head butts. In Rd 11, Darchinyan complained of a low blow but the referee Tommy Kimmons failed to see it. Agbeko fell down again due to a push by Darchinyan. The crowd responded with boos and cheered Agbeko to continue. The 12th Rd was quite an even exchange.

At the end of the final bell, Agbeko looked satisfied with his performance but Darchinyan looked disappointed especially when Jimmy Lennon, Jr. announced the scores and the outcome…”116-114, 114-113 and 114-113…all for the winner and still … the IBF Bantamweight Champion of the World… Joseph King Kong Agbeko.”


IBF Bantamweight champ Joseph Agbeko (c) retained his belt after UD win vs. Darchinyan. Don King (R) is his promoter. (Photo by Dr. Allan Recto)

Team Agbeko was thrilled together with Don King who complained a lot. Don King verbalized to the media afterwards, “I want to let it be known that this guy had two opponents in the ring. The referee was very, very bias – never would take a point, just warnings. You have to have a fair man in the center of that ring who will be able to protect you as a boxer.”

In his post-fight interview, Agbeko told us, “I am still the champion, and not the chimpanzee he (Vic) said. Vic kept pushing me. The referee could have done more. I was fighting two people inside the ring – Vic Darchinyan and the referee.”

Team Darchinyan was visibly upset with the outcome. Although this time, the Raging Bull remained humble in defeat. “I was trying to go for the knock out by landing that one big punch, but it never happened … my Team saw the mistake and tried to correct it but I didn’t listen ... Tonight, I lost to the better man,” he managed to say.

Only the champion Agbeko showed up at the post-fight conference later and told everyone, “After tonight, Darchinyan should be called “The Raging Bulls—t!”

At 11:45 pm, Darchinyan was inside his dressing room preparing for stitches. This writer managed to tell him, “You have nothing to be ashamed of… you fought with a big heart.” He looked at me then said, “Thank you for coming.”

Dr. Allan Fields, a distinguished Florida ringside physician, was there to assist in his care. Dr. Fields, a remarkable colleague, used to take care of Muhammad Ali so this writer informed Darchinyan he was in excellent hands.

Top photo: Joseph Agbeko falls to the floor after being pushed away by Vic Darchinyan (R), walking toward a neutral corner. (Photo by Dr. Allan Recto)



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dr. Allan Recto.


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