IT is another Mexican showdown for Caoimhin Agyarko this Saturday night as the West Belfast man will aim to impress and retain his WBA middleweight title when he tangles with Juan Carlos Rubio on the Wood-Conlan undercard.
Agyarko enjoyed a fine start to life under the Matchroom banner when defeating Noe Larios Jr for the title back in December on the same bill as Katie Taylor’s victory over Firuza Sharipova, but this weekend is perhaps an even bigger opportunity to raise his stock in front of a big travelling support and even bigger Belfast audience who will tune in for the card.
The plan for ‘Black Thunder’ is to continue his development while growing his profile ahead of a planned homecoming late in the year and a good victory over Rubio to maintain his perfect record through 11 fights will be the perfect way to do that.
“To be on Mick’s undercard for a world title, especially if he goes and wins it, and I put on a good performance – it’s one for the history books,” said the former Holy Trinity amateur.
“Last time it was Katie’s undercard and she successfully defended her world titles, so this is great for my career to be on the undercards of Irish superstars.
“This is the kind of route that I want to be on. I want to be headlining shows back in Belfast and want to be the star of Belfast and Irish boxing, so to be on this and get a glimpse of what that is like is amazing for my career.”
Rubio will make the journey across the Atlantic from his native Guadalajara with a record of 18-1 and half of those victories coming inside the distance.
A southpaw, the 23-year-old will ask Agyarko different questions and on paper, looks an ideal matchup at this stage of his career.
Rubio’s sole defeat was in his previous outing last August when being stopped in the third round by the highly-rated American Charles Conwell in a USBA light-middleweight title fight in Cleveland, so how Agyarko fares will be a decent barometer.
It may be something of a cliche, but Mexicans come to fight and should Agyarko not be on his game, then the visitor will only be too happy to take advantage and that is not what the Turf Lodge man can allow to happen if his plans to make this year a breakout one are to remain on track.
“This is a step up,” he accepts.
“There are no easy fights and I’m now in the world rankings: top 15 with the WBA, so I’m going to have to up my game with each fight and keep grafting hard, keep training hard, keep improving and keep putting the performances in.
“I want to headline a show back in Belfast by the end of 2022 and this is the next step in doing so.
“The two main things are not only making me a star back home but making me a star globally. We have plans to fight in the States, possibly as early as the summer, but m main objective is to headline shows back in Belfast.”
With Eddie Hearn’s promotional backing and guidance from manager Paul Ready, Agyarko appears to have the right people around him to bring him the big opportunities he craves.
Hearn actually passed up the chance to win his signature when he first made the decision to leave the amateur code behind, but as he watched Agyarko impress in fight after fight under the banner of rival promoter Frank Warren, once the chance came again he was determined to get his man