|Photo credit: Akira Kouchiyama|
On August 13th two Bantamwwight contenders Joseph Agbeko (28-2 22KOs) and Abner Mares met to fight for the IBF/WBC Silver Bantamweight belts in the final of Showtime four-man Bantamweight tournament. Both are skillfull boxers, rank in top five of The Ring's Bantamweight rankings and have good records of exciting fights behind them. This should have been a spectacle of technically superb boxing. In the end, referee Russell Mora managed to place himself at the centre of attention by making some horrible calls.
The Fight Started Out Well
It is a shame, really, because aside from the low blows Mares (21-0-1 13KOs) looked quite good. He started off the fight well, landing his jab easily and hurting Agbeko with a hook to the body. He was warned shortly after for a low blow, foreshadowing the way he would fight in later rounds. Round one ended 10-8 for Mares, after he knocked Agbeko down for a standing eight count.
The next few rounds went back and forth, with both Agbeko and Mares giving good accounts of themselves. Agbeko didn't seem too hurt from his knockdown and began to fight his own way, winning the second and forth rounds by landing good head shots. In round five, referee Russell Mora's head began to melt and he made some terrible calls.
It was during round five that Mares was warned a third time for a low blow. At this stage, he really should have lost a point. Instead, the referee saw fit only to warn him, causing some outrage from the audience. It was from this point that you knew Russell Mora's judgement was completely off.
Mares took the next couple of rounds with a good display. In the seventh, he dealt Agbeko another low blow but it wasn't picked up. This continued for rounds ten, eleven and twelve, with Mares continually punching below the belt and getting no repercussions in return. In round eleven, referee Russell Mora made a call that was the worst of them all. Abner Mares hit Joseph Agbeko with another blatant low blow, and the referee ruled it a knock down.
When the bell went and both fighters retired, there was a buzz around the Hard Rock Hotel. No-one could believe what they had seen, or indeed what the referee had failed to see. It was announced then that Abner Mares had won the fight.
Should Agbeko Have Won?
Since some of Mares' low blows were blatant, it is appropriate to look at the effect they had on the score cards. It is obvious that she should have been docked at least a point. In round eleven, Agbeko should not have had a knock down scored against him. It came from an illegal punch, and the referee should have picked up on this. Joseph Agbeko certainly has reason to believe that, had Russell Mora had made the right calls, he would have retained his belt.
And Finally...Mares Was Better Than Agbeko
Taking away the low blows and bad calls, Abner Mares was better on the night. He was landing more punches, better combinations and he dealt Agbeko some legitimate damage. Had he thought properly the entire way through, we would have watched a much closer, more entertaining fight.
There is only one thing that can happen after this. The two must meet in a rematch as soon as possible, with a competent referee taking over procedings. Until then, we do not know who is the better fighter.
For the Abner Mares Joseph Agbeko rematch preview click here, and for the result click here