You just don’t see fights that often with the pace of Yonnhy Perez-Joseph Agbeko, a bantamweight battle on Showtime Saturday night that featured an astronomical number of hard, clean power punches. Perez came out on top with a unanimous decision in a raucously entertaining and well-fought war. I had him winning eight rounds to four, but would have had it a closer seven rounds to five if not for a flubbed knockdown call in the 10th. Many of the rounds were close, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more than a few people thought Agbeko pulled it out.
Ultimately, though, it was just a really good scrap, one that gave the month of October its third Fight of the Year-caliber bout, following Juan Manuel Lopez-Rogers Mtagwa and Ryan Rhodes-Jamie Moore.
Coming in, I predicted an Agbeko victory because I thought he’d outwork Perez. But if anything, Perez outworked Agbeko, which ought to tell us something. Agbeko is a very aggressive and busy fighter, so outbusying him is quite an accomplisment. Also, I expected Perez to be slower. If anything, he was a little faster. Agbeko fought better than ever, but then, so did Perez. Perez was more accurate, which may have been the biggest difference in the fight. The only thing the fight lacked, technically, was some defense, but it wasn’t for lack of ability. It was because both men were so, so manic in their pursuit of offense that they were bound to get hit while opening up. And open up they did. Showtime doesn’t have a stat counter like CompuBox, but the broadcast team couldn’t remember a fight they’d ever had with so many punches thrown.
That 10th round flubbed call — clearly, a head butt led to Agbeko going down, rather than a punch. Agbeko had been winning that round until what was ruled an official knockdown swung it to Perez. I scored it 10-9 rather than 10-8, not that it made a difference on my scorecard or on the judges’, one of whom had it as wide as 117-110. Still, I thought Agbeko could have really hurt himself in that round, theoretically. He turned his back on Perez after the head butt, which no fighter should ever do, and when he went down, it didn’t look like he was all that wobbly. When he got up, he looked fresh as a daisy, really, and was already complaining. In other words, it had the air of exaggeration about it, as if Agbeko was trying to pull one over on the ref. Considering how often Abeko delivers head butts, I was surprised to see him taking it so hard.
Perez really impressed me. So did Agbeko, despite my scorecard and my gripes about his (possible) theatrics. There was some talk afterward about a rematch, which both men said they’d be up for. I’d sure as hell watch it again.