Joseph Agbeko’s dream of landing another world title shot is on hold for now. Agbeko was unable to secure a visa for England ahead of his WBO bantamweight final eliminator versus Paul Butler Friday night, forcing the bout’s cancellation.
Agbeko (38-5, 28 KOs), a two-time IBF world bantamweight champion, was slated to face fellow former champ Butler (32-2, 15 KOs) at University of Bolton Stadium in Bolton, England. The Ghanaian is crying foul over treatment meted out to him by MTK which organized the card.
“I am very disappointed with the organizers for notifying me just three weeks to a fight of this caliber,” Agbeko told BoxingAfrica.com.
“I feel it was deliberate to give Butler due advantage over me because I read him say in an interview that he has had ten weeks of preparation for the bout.
“It was difficult putting documents together for me and my team and preparing within three weeks to go for the fight and that was why we couldn’t secure the visa.”
Replacing Agbeko is Willibaldo Garcia (12-4-1, 6 KOs). It’s a disappointing turn of events for Agbeko who, at 41, is aware his opportunities are few and far between. Since losing to legendary Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2013, Agbeko has won nine straight, including a fifth-round TKO over Albert Commey last December.
This was to be his first fight in 2021. which Agbeko says forced him to accept the Butler fight despite the short notice.
“I have written letters to have me fight for the final eliminator but didn’t receive any response despite being the number one contender so when Butler’s camp requested for the eliminator, I took it,” Agbeko explained.
“I was supposed to have at least eight weeks of preparation for a final eliminator bout but I chose to take it because I have been out for long but the timing wasn’t just right.”
However, Agbeko said he will be looking forward to taking on Butler after the Briton’s fight with Garcia on Friday. This, he says, will provide both camps ample time to negotiate for the WBO bantamweight final eliminator to produce a mandatory challenger to the champion John Riel Casimero. Casimero faces WBC World Champion Nonito Donaire in a unification bout Saturday, August 14, in a Premier Boxing Champions card on SHOWTIME.
Agbeko expects to get a shot at the winner.
“Butler cannot for the WBO final eliminator without me because I am the number one and he is behind me.,” he said.
“I am still ready to fight him so I hope after his fight on Friday we can have a meaningful negotiation and then have time to prepare for the final eliminator bout.”