Welcome to HBO's answer to Showtime's Malignaggi vs. Judah event!
Guillermo Rigondeaux and Joseph Agbeko are the headliners for this three-fight main card. Both fighters made weight, coming in at 121 and 121.6 pounds, respectively, for their super bantamweight title fight. Rigondeaux's WBA and WBO belts are on the line.
"I'm very excited to get back in the ring," said Rigondeaux in his pre-fight statement. "Joseph Agbeko is a great champion, and I believe all fans will be pleased with the type of performance we will both exhibit to end a great year of boxing. I believe Agbeko will come prepared, ready to engage and be very aggressive. We will both showcase our skills, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to end 2013 the way I opened it up, with surprise and pure boxing class for the world to see."
Tapia (20-0, 12 KOs) is fighting for the fifth time this year, knocking out three of his past four opponents, including his finish over Abie Han last July to capture the vacant NABO junior middleweight title. He was last seen flattening Elco Garcia in the fifth round last September and is currently ranked No. 9 and No. 10, by the WBO and IBF, respectively.
Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs), of Austin, TX, returns to the ring after a 21-month hiatus and has notched 11 of his last 12 victories by knockout dating back to 2007 for a ratio of 87 percent. Prominent victories on his resume include Alfredo Angulo, Carlos Molina, Joel Julio and Bryan Vera.
Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs), of Birmingham, England, has collected Irish, British and European middleweight and junior middleweight titles since making his pro debut in 2001. He recently earned a pair of title fights, against middleweight champions Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin, losing to both by stoppage.
Russ (14-0, 7 KOs), of Wilmington, NC, has twice served as lead sparring partner to WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin's in previous training camps and holds back-to-back knockout victories over Jose Alonzo and Jonathan Cepeda, who boasted a combined record of 25-0 when Russ fought them in 2012.
For more background on the main and undercard fighters click here.
MMAmania will have LIVE coverage of the event, starting with the HBO broadcast at 9:45 PM EST.
Quick results and round-by-round coverage below.
Super Bantamweight (122 lbs) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko -- Rigondeaux wins via decision (unanimous) 120-108 x3
Catchweight (156) James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia -- Tapia wins via knockout (technical) 0:38, round 6
Middleweight (160 lbs) Matthew Macklin vs. Lamar Russ -- Macklin wins via decision (unanimous) 98-92, 97-93, 96-94
WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight Title Fight: (Champion) Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko:
Round one: Purple and yellow trunks for the two-time olympic gold medalist, Rigondeaux ("Rig-on-dow" is the pronunciation for the unaware). Green for Agbeko. Rigondeaux with a nice left-right combo. Agbeko comes forward, but Rigondeaux sidesteps. Left uppercut from Rigondeaux. Jab from Agbeko. Agbeko said he wanted a fight and a brawl, but he seems content to stand and box with Rigondeaux. 10-9 Rigondeaux
Round two: Agbeko with the lunging right. Bolo from Rigondeaux lands. Rigondeaux feints left and throws a right to the body. Agbeko is getting timed nicely by Rigondeaux so far. Slow-paced round here as Agbeko is just standing there while Rigondeaux occasionally peppers. Nice left from Rigondeaux. 10-9 Rigondeaux, 20-18
Round three: For someone who complained about "not giving the fans what they pay for", Agbeko is doing very little to try and entertain. Ripping body shot from Rigondeaux. Agbeko lands one of those, too, but gets hit by a counter back from Rigondeaux. Agbeko coming forward slowly this round, but neither man is landing clean. 10-10, 30-28
Round four: Range finding from Rigondeaux. Nice lefts here from Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux holds the head down and pummels Agbeko, but then hits the back of the head that gets a warning from the ref. Lead uppercut from Rigondeaux. Counter left from Rigondeaux. Good jab from Agbeko, but Rigondeaux ducks under the right. 10-9 Rigondeaux. 40-37
Round five: Left from Rigondeaux to open the 5th. Rigondeaux misses a lead uppercut as Agbeko sidesteps back and right. Agbeko not throwing much here. Rigondeaux is quick as a snake here, but Agbeko's keeping the range well. Nice jab from Rigondeaux. A right to the chest hits Agbeko. Dull round, to be honest. 10-9 Rigondeaux, 50-46
Round six: I'm moderately certain that Kirkland landed more punches in any round than both of these fighters have landed so far. 1-2 from Rigondeaux. They trade jabs. Agbeko bobbing and weaving, looking for an opening and not finding it, nor trying to force something. 1-2 from Rigondeaux again. Rigondeaux is spamming body lefts now, each a couple of heartbeats apart. 10-9 Rigondeaux. 60-55
Round seven: Agbeko just hasn't come out of his shell here, and you know Rigondeaux certainly isn't going to turn into Arturo Gatti all of a sudden. Rigondeaux keeping Agbeko at bay with the jab. Agbeko misses a pair of left hooks. Rigondeaux is landing a few good shots here, right-left-right. 10-9 Rigondeaux again, 70-64
Round eight: Roger Mayweather is in Agbeko's corner and tells him he needs to take chances if Agbeko wants to win. Lead right from Rigondeaux. Agbeko keeping his hands high and not really taking those risks halfway through the round. 3-2-3 from Rigondeaux while Agbeko just shuffles forward. Rigondeaux is just in rhythm here, doing whatever he wants. Rigondeaux circling around a stationary Agbeko here. 10-9 Rigondeaux, 80-73
Round nine: Lovely sparring session here for Rigondeaux. Nice to see him get a gentle workout. Body right from Agbeko. Left from Rigondeaux. They trade jabs and Agbeko finally lands a good right. Whatever. 10-9 Leonard Garcia. 89-83
Round ten: Rigondeaux seems to be entertaining himself by throwing the same punch over and over to see how many times he can land the same punch - this round it's the jab to the head. Rounds 1,2,5 Nick Diaz. 99-92
Round eleven: 1-2 from Rigondeaux, he throws a right hook to the body and Agbeko's return shot is 4 feet away from the Cuban, who's long gone off to his right. This looks like me racing Usain Bolt here. Agbeko is 270p and Rigondeaux is 1080HD. 50-45 GSP. 109-101
Round twelve: Not a single damaging punch has landed from either side for the past half hour. Agbeko keeps trying to push water uphill while Rigondeaux is going for a leisurely walk in the park. I give the round to Alexander Gustafsson. 119-110
Final result: 120-108 x3 - Unanimous Decision for Guillermo Rigondeaux.
James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia
Round one: "Jersey Boy" Tapia with the big hometown roar here in Atlantic City. "Mandingo Warrior" Kirkland draws little but boos. Tapia in camo trunks and Kirkland in black. Tapia comes out quick. Left from the NJ boy. And a right. Tapia looking strong here, but Kirkland isn't just here to be a punching bag and he's coming forward. Jab and 1-2 from Tapia. He's landing a lot. Kirkland backs Tapia back and works the body. Both trade body blows. Stiff right from Tapia. Kirkland's face is marred already. Kirkland refuses to be a chump and is backing Tapia up to the ropes. 10-9 Tapia
Round two: Left from Tapia. Clinch work from both men. Kirkland with a nice left and ducks a right. Another left from Kirkland. Jab from Tapia. Couple of uppercuts from both fighters. Tapia walks into a straight left that wobbles him. Tapia is letting himself be bullied by the smaller man here. Uppercut from Glen and a right from James. Tapia leans away from a big left. Right from Tapia. 10-9 Kirkland, 19-19
Round three: They immediately flash forward. Jab from Tapia and a right from Kirkland. Kirkland flurrying Tapia against the ropes. Not sure why Tapia is letting himself get punched freely. Now Tapia throwing back. Tapia backs Kirkland back. Kirkland with a big right. Tapia with a left. Standing and wanging here from both men. Again, Tapia backs to the edge and letting Kirkland hit him. Nothing's strong from Kirkland, but they're all landing. Tapia's not looking good here at all early. They exchange here near the end of the round. Big flurry from both men, although Tapia landed better there. 10-9 Kirkland, 29-28
Round four: Again Kirkland the aggressor and Tapia isn't offering too much resistance to it. They trade blows now in center ring. Uppercuts from Kirkland. Tapia pushing back now, but not throwing much. Tapia looks gassed and is arm punching now. Kirkland is outlanding Tapia something like 5-1 this round. More possibly. Hard to just call what Kirkland is hitting him with, because it's almost everything. 10-9 Kirkland, 39-37
Round five: Ref warns Tapia that if he just takes a bunch of headshots like the last round, he'll stop it. Tapia comes out with a big punch to open. Left to Kirkland's temple. One to Tapia's. Kirkland back to bullying and throwing volume. Body shots from Kirkland. Kirkland's inside boxing has been phenomenal. Kirkland throwing unanswered for a good 20 seconds. Finally a good left from Tapia. Kirkland really is fighting like a man who knows he's on his last chance as a pro boxer. 10-9 Kirkland, 49-46
Round six: Kirkland comes out quickly again, knowing he's got a good chance to end it. Again, Kirkland backs up Tapia and starts unloading. The ref has seen enough and finally saves Tapia. Kirkland lands a final left hook as the ref is breaking it up that near KO's Tapia.
Final result: James Kirkland defeats Glen Tapia via TKO at 0:38 of round 6
Matthew Macklin vs. Lamar Russ
Round one: Evening boxing fans, we've got Macklin in green and Russ in purple. This is the definition of a rebound fight - a dangerous one against an unknown - but still a rebound fight for Macklin. Macklin aggressive early, making Russ circle. Decent right from "The Knife". Now Russ stops and starts looking for some shots. Good jab from the young man from North Carolina. Uppercut from Macklin. 10-9 Macklin on a fairly uneventful first.
Round two: Macklin coming forward, lunging in. Russ has a length advantage and Macklin is having to explode forward to negate it. Shoulder rolling from Russ. Good left from Macklin lands. Ref is letting the clinch go a bit more than many with more verbal warnings before they either disengage or he steps in. Nice body left from Russ. Jab from Macklin who's changing levels a lot. Counter left from Macklin. 10-10 to make it 20-19.
Round three: Jab and a 1-2 from Russ. Macklin corners Russ briefly and gets in a nice hook. Macklin doubles up on lead lefts. Upwards jab from Macklin lands. Nice body jab and a right upstairs from the Irish pugilist. Body shot from Russ. They exchange rights from the clinch. 10-9 Macklin 30-28.
Round four: Many jabs from Russ, but the follow up 2 hits glove. Right from Russ hits the ducking Macklin's ear. Uppercut from Macklin. Russ coming forward and making Macklin circle now. Lunging left clips Russ and perhaps wobbles Russ. Macklin on the aggression now and he combos up on the young man. 3-2 from Macklin, but it's glancing. Russ isn't landing anything but jabs here. 10-9 Macklin. 40-37
Round five: Right from Russ. Body right from Macklin. Russ swings a hard right that hits both chin and glove. Thudding right from Russ and an answering left from Macklin. Unintentional headbutt has Russ grabbing and wiping his eye. They pause for a bit and that's that. Jabs from Macklin. They flurry with Macklin going low while Russ aims high. Left from Macklin and a bit of dirty boxing. 10-9 Russ. 49-47
Round six: Left from Macklin. Left and right from Russ. Right from Macklin. Macklin on the lead foot now pressing forward, but not throwing much. Right from both fighters. Macklin lunging, but not landing solid. Russ on his bike now. He's certainly not as fresh as he was earlier. They exchange jabs. 10-9 Macklin on a slow paced round. 59-56
Round seven: Russ looks tentative here. Macklin still ducking down and jabbing up. Left from Macklin and an uppercut. And a right. Russ with a nice body shot. Couple of leaping rights from Macklin. Good footwork from Russ. 10-9 Macklin, 69-65
Round eight: Macklin with an explosive jab. Russ is just letting himself get outclassed here, jabbing and running. They exchange rights. Popping jab from Russ. Macklin looking for angles, and hits a right. Left from Macklin hits the jaw. Clinchwork from both men. Russ doesn't seem to have any power on his shots now. 10-9 Macklin and Russ is frustrated. 79-74
Round nine: Macklin answers the bell with a lunging left. Big right from Macklin lands. Russ firing back and they both thud some shots in. Left from Macklin and a 1-2. Russ looks tired, but is heeding his corners pleas for "more" and is finally throwing power shots. Good chin from both men as they slug more here. Macklin seems to be winning the exchanges, but Russ is not without some moments of his own. Now Russ on his bike. Macklin chasing. Right from Russ, and another. A third now. Macklin misses with a wild right. 10-9 Macklin, but probably the most exciting round of the night, as Russ decided to make it a dogfight to show some pride here. 89-83
Round ten: We're back to tentative fighting from both men here. Macklin seems to be coasting for the first minute. Right from Macklin. Jab from Russ. Russ is coming forward now as Macklin is content to ride this out. 1-2 from Russ. Jab from Macklin and a right. Showboating from the Irie. Right straight clips Russ good. Russ bullies Macklin to the canvas with a trip. 10-9 Russ, 98-93
Final result: 96-94, 98-92, 97-93 - Unanimous decision for Matthew Macklin.