WBC title beckons Agbeko

BY: Maurice Quansah

Ghanaian boxer Joseph ‘King Kong’ Agbeko is expected to make a return to the ring for a world title shot after his manager, Frank Espinosa, began talks that could see the Ghanaian fight for the WBC super-bantamweight title against the champion, Leo Santa Cruz.

Agbeko fought on December 7 last year, and suffered a unanimous points decision against WBA super bantamweight champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Despite the loss, the Ghanaian took a lot of positives from that bout as he had just moved up weight in a division which had many tough fighters, including CubaRgondeaux and Mexican Santa Cruz.

However, while training at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas for a possible tune-up bout, Agbeko received an earlier-than-expected call from his manager to step up his preparation for a world title shot on the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos René Maidana card next month.

The former IBF bantamweight champion told the Graphic Sports yesterday in a telephone interview from his Las Vegas base that he was excited about the prospects of another world title shot and was determined to take full advantage of the opportunity.

“Because I had just moved up weight, I had requested a tune-up fight before focusing on a world title shot, but when such an opportunity comes your way you must grab it immediately,” he said, adding that he had begun sparring sessions.

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Negotiation, Agbeko indicated, had started between his manager and the champion’s camp and was hopeful to step into the ring on September 13 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

“Once we sign the fight contract I’ll invite my local trainer Ofori Asare to come over to the United States to prepare me for the big showdown because it’s a God-send opportunity I can’t miss this time.”

At 26, Santa Cruz is undefeated and one of the most feared boxer in the 122-pound class with an impressive ring record of 27 wins (15 knockouts) and one draw. He last fought on March 8 this year when he defeated compatriot Cristian Mijares over 12 rounds to retain his WBC super bantamweight title.

At 34 [29-5 (22 KO)], age and inactivity (due partly to a managerial dispute with Don King which ended in a separation last year) has had a toll on Agbeko who has fought just three times since he lost the IBF bantamweight and WBC Silver bantamweight titles to  Mexican Abner Mares at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.