LAS VEGAS — Nobody seemed overly concerned when Joseph Agbeko came in slightly over the bantamweight limit at Friday’s weighin for his IBF title defense against Abner Mares tomorrow at the Hard Rock Hotel.
The 31-year-old veteran has fought at bantamweight for most of his 12-year career and has never failed or even struggled to make the 118-pound limit. Mares weighed in at 117½ pounds on his first attempt.
The bantamweights standouts, who will compete in the finals match of Showtime’s “Winner Take All” tournament, faced off for the photographers and then Agbeko suited up to work off whatever .2 of a pound amounts to.
It was initially thought that Agbeko had two hours, per IBF rules, to lose the extra weight. However, Nevada state regulations, which only allows a fighter one additional hour to make weight, took precedence. Agbeko only needed about 40 minutes.
After a 30-minute jaunt on a treadmill at the Hard Rock’s gym, which was right around the corner from the lounge where the weighin took place, the Bronx, N.Y.-based Ghanaian returned to the scale and made 118 pounds on the nose.
“I didn’t think there was going to be any problem,” said Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Mares. “Agbeko didn’t look drained or drawn in and he was in good spirits when he arrived to the weighin.”
Both tournament finalists, who earned their spots in Saturday’s match with impressive performances in semifinal bouts that took place in December, were in good spirits.
Agbeko, who outclassed Yonnhy Perez over 12 rounds, and Mares, who out-gutted Vic Darchinyan to a split-decision victory, exuded confidence as they displayed their chiseled bodies for a small crowd of fans, most of whom were in support of the 25-year-old challenger.
All that’s left for them to do now is fight.
The four-bout undercard for the Agbeko-Mares main event begins at 3:30 p.m. PT on Saturday. Doors to The Joint open at 3:00 p.m.
The opening bout is a scheduled eight-round welterweight bout between lightweight prospect Carlos Molina (14-0, 7 KOs), who looked a little paunchy weighing in at 143 pounds, and journeyman Juan Manuel Montiel (6-4-2, 1 KO), who weighed in at 137 pounds.
The second bout is an interesting welterweight matchup between junior welterweight prospect Angelo Santana (10-0, 7 KOs), who weighed in at 139 pounds, and late-substitute Ramzan Adaev (8-0-1, 7 KOs), who weighed in at 148 pounds.
It’s rare that a prospect would accept a last-day fight against a fellow undefeated fighter, who can not only punch but is also nine pounds heavier. However, Santana had no problem with Adaev as an opponent, so props to the former Cuban amateur standout.
Former flyweight titleholder Eric Morel (44-2, 22 KOs) will engage in a scheduled 10-round bantamweight bout against hardnosed journeyman Daniel Quevedo (13-11-2, 8 KOs) in the third undercard bout.
Morel, who weighed in at 118½ pounds, is reportedly in line for a shot at WBA bantamweight belt holder Anselmo Moreno later this year. Quevedo weighed in at 117½ pounds.
The final undercard bout is a scheduled 12-round heavyweight bout between 29-year-old hopeful Eric Molina (17-1, 13 KOs), who weighed in at 229 pounds, and 36-year-old would-be spoiler Warren Browning (14-1-1, 9 KOs).
Photos / Naoki Fukuda