Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko wants one more world title before it’s all said and done.
Agbeko is 43, an age where most fighters have hung up the gloves for so long, they’re now collecting dust. Yet the former two-time world bantamweight champion from Ghana remains steadfast in his belief that he can reach the pinnacle one last time.
At the very least, he should get that shot. Agbeko (37-5, 27 KOs) is currently ranked third at bantamweight by the WBO. He’s won eight in a row and picked up the WBO Africa bantamweight belt in the process.
“I have not considered retiring yet because I believe in myself that I still have a lot to offer boxing. I know I will become a world champion again the next time I get the chance to challenge for it,” Agbeko told BoxingAfrica.com. “That is the focus now and I don’t feel age will deprive me of that. It is going to be tough but I am determined to achieve it.”
Winning a world title at this stage would be a remarkable feat in what has already been an impressive 22-year-career. For now, we look at his four most memorable moments, as told to BoxingAfrica.com by Agbeko himself.
ABDUL MALIK JABIR
Date: July 30, 1999
Location: Kaneshie Sports Complex, Accra, Ghana
Result: Agbeko KO 1
Record: Agbeko 5-0 (4 KOs), Jabir (Debut)
At stake: Vacant Ghana bantamweight title
Summary: In his sixth professional bout, Agbeko faced compatriot Abdul Malik Jabir for the vacant Ghanaian bantamweight crown.
Winning the national title would mean a shot at the continental belt. Fighting with urgency, Agbeko stopped Jabir in one round.
“That fight continues to live within me because the competition at the time was good even though I won in the first round,” said Agbeko. “It was one of the fights that made me who I am today because it brought me the national title which led to the African belt.”
In 2000, Agbeko captured the vacant African Boxing Union by stopping Nigeria’s Ola Balougon in two rounds.
“I knew I was always going to get to my destination so I was always taking my chances. That fight too was great and I beat the Nigerian in Accra.
“Fighting at home had always been a dream and I make sure I take advantage of that. I still maintained that fighting Jabir at the early stages of my career really helped.”
Date: May 18, 2004
Location: Hansehalle, Luebeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Result: Sydorenko MD 12
Record: Agbeko 21-0 (19 KOs), Sydorenko 14-0 (6 KOs)
Summary: Ukraine’s Volodymyr Sydorenko was undefeated when he slugged it out with Agbeko in a bantamweight contest in 2004 in Germany. It was not an easy bout for the Ghanaian, who failed to acclimatize to the weather ahead of the bout.
Agbeko wasn’t at his best yet fought on even terms with Sydorenko throughout, ultimately losing a 12-round majority decision.
“It was an emotional night for me because I lost for the first time in my professional career. I felt I did better than the results showed,” Agbeko recounted. “I remember I cried the whole night in the dressing room but I needed to come back stronger back home which I did in my Commonwealth title triumph.”
YONNHY PEREZ 2
Date: December 11, 2010
Location: Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, USA
Result: Agbeko UD 12
Record: Agbeko 27-2 (22 KOs), Perez 20-0 (14 KOs)
At stake: Perez’s IBF world bantamweight title
Summary: Agbeko first met Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez back in October 2009. It was the third defense of his IBF world bantamweight title but, that night, the belt changed hands as Perez won a 12-round unanimous decision.
A vengeful Agbeko activated the rematch clause. They would meet 14 months later and this time, Agbeko was simply too much for the Colombian. Agbeko produced a master class, winning unanimously by scores of 115-113, 115-112 and 117-111.
“I felt relieved after the fight because I needed the win,” Agbeko admitted. “I was glad that I managed to prove myself again having lost the first bout.
“The win represented a sweet revenge for me and I remember getting a lot of plaudits for my performance after the fight. It was an incredible night for me.”
LUIS ALBERTO PEREZ
Date: September 29, 2007
Location: Arco Arena, Sacramento, California, USA
Result: Agbeko RTD 7
Record: Agbeko 24-1 (21 KOs), Alberto 25-1 (16 KOs)
At stake: Perez’s IBF bantamweight title
Years before his battles versus Yohnny Perez, Agbeko first challenged for a world title versus incumbent Luis Alberto Perez. Perez, a hard-hitting southpaw from Nicaragua, had won the title in July that year, toppling Genaro Garcia in seven rounds. Agbeko was expected to be a soft touch in his first title defense.
That wasn’t the case. The action was crisp albeit one sided. Perez was the aggressor but Agbeko made him pay for it round after round. At times, he’d land a crisp jab upstairs. Or he’d catch Perez coming in with hard rights. Perez was game—and overmatched versus an Agbeko who was too fast, too powerful, and too skilled.
A series of rights busted Perez’s face in the sixth and seventh round. The bout was mercifully stopped on the advice of the ringside doctor who checked in on Perez prior to the start of the eighth.
Agbeko’s win was one of the biggest upsets that year, establishing him as a major player in boxing and the latest great pugilist out of Ghana.
“It was the biggest fight of my career and I will forever be grateful to my team for making it happen,” Agbeko recalled. “I was the underdog in the fight but that didn’t deter me from giving off my best.”
“I remember meeting so many boxing greats congratulating me for my efforts and it was a great feeling that kick-started my career to greatness.”