Mares-Agbeko shows the highs and lows of boxing
Mares wins Showtime's Bantamweight Tournament with controversial majority decision over "King Kong" Agbeko
Ringside by Andreas Hale & Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos by Chris Cozzone
A referee is supposed to be the invisible third man in the ring. Never should he make a difference in how the fight ends. Russell Mora changed all of that on Saturday nigh at Showtime's Bantamweight Tournament Final between IBF champion Joseph Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) and WBC Silver titlist Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs)
It was a hard fought 12-round battle that saw Mares earn a majority decision and capture the IBF title as the tournament’s victor. It’s too bad that the decision was marred by constant low blows from Mares that Russell Mora neglected to penalize the Mexican for – including an obvious low blow that was scored a knockdown in the 11th round. Because of that, the fight became more about Mora than it was about the gritty fight that the two 118 pounders put on at The Joint inside of the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
The fight started completely in Mares favor as he came out with an aggressive attack that left Agbeko blown away. Part of that attack was a dedicated body assault that appeared to take some of the fight out of the Ghanaian. However, some of those body blows travelled south. Initially, it was an oversight by Mora along with a first round knockdown by Mares where a punch never landed. The oversight in the early rounds became sheer neglect as the fight progressed. As Mares continued to rack up the rounds, Agbeko had to soak up the multiple low blows that Mora somehow managed to not do anything about.
The tide slowly began to change once Agbeko figured out that Mares was susceptible to the jab and the overhand right. A crushing right hand in the fourth round stopped Mares in his tracks, but Agbeko didn’t follow-up. But despite not capitalizing on the opportunity, Agbeko swung the pendulum in his favor and found success with aggression in the later rounds. The low blows, however, kept coming. Although they weren’t intentional, fighters have been docked points for far less than what Mares managed to do.
Despite the foul festival, Agbeko’s aggression and jab brought him back into the fight. As the championship rounds rolled around, the fight appeared to be in striking distance of pulling off the comeback.
Then it happened.
With Agbeko having a strong 11th round, a Mares body shot strayed below the belt line and directly into Agbeko’s groin. It was assumed that Mora would finally dock Mares for the repeated low blows. That certainly was not the case. Rather than deduct a point, Mora shocked everyone in attendance as he started his count. Agbeko protested the knockdown but to no avail. Although he finished the fight strong, the low blows and the two questionable knockdowns ended up making the difference as both judges Oren Shellenberger and Adalaide Byrd scored the fight 115-111 for Mares and CJ Ross saw it 113-113.
As well as both Mares and Agbeko fought, the talk of the fight was Russell Mora’s awful officiating.
“They were not low blows, they were on the belt line” said referee Russell Mora.
Clearly he was mistaken.
“The referee stole my title from me - I demand an immediate rematch,” Agbeko stated.” I had two opponents in the ring tonight – Abner Mares and the referee.”
The newly crowned IBF champ had an explanation for the questionable officiating.
“The first knockdown was clear; the second one I hit him on the belt,” Mares said. “That was the ref’s job to call it a knockdown. He was pulling me down and that’s why the body shot was low.”
With his victory shrouded in controversy, would he welcome a rematch?
“I’m open for anything,” Mares said.
Hopefully they can make this fight happen again. Boxing fans and Agbeko deserve it. – Andreas Hale
Molina Blasts Browning
As the old saying goes, “Defense wins championships.” Eric Molina (18-1) weathered an early storm from Warren Browning en route to a third round knockout victory to win the United States Heavyweight title. “The Hitman” started off with a bang, landing some solid uppercuts in the opening round. But Browning ended just like he started—with a bang. Molina turned on the gas in the second round, blasting his foe with a straight right hand. Browning crashed to the mat face first with a thud but popped back up only to be dropped with another right hand late in the round. With dropped hands and a scrambled brain heading into the third, Browning moved the only way he knew how: forward. He was promptly flattened again by another Molina right hand. The referee had seen enough, mercifully ending the bout. - Anthony Springer Jr.
Morel Destroys Quevedo
Former WBA flyweight champion Eric Morel (45-2, 23 KOs) dusted off unheralded Daniel Quevedo (13-12-2), scoring a 4th round TKO when Quevedo’s corner wouldn’t allow him to continue. Morel severely outclassed Quevedo from the start and dropped him in the 2nd round of their scheduled 10 round bantamweight tilt. Quevedo had absolutely nothing for “Little Hands Of Steel” and by the end of the 4th round the brutality was simply too much. – Andreas Hale
Santana Wrecks Late Replacement
A relatively slow start was punctuated by fireworks at the finish. Angelo Santana captured the vacant WBA Fedecaribe Lightweight championship in a one sided drubbing of Ramzan Adaev (8-1-1). Both men took their time feeling each other out, but as soon as the fist started flying, it was clear who the better fighter was. Santana (11-0, 8 KOs) unloaded with a heavy body shot against the ropes in the opener and landed a series of effective combos. Adaev was reduced to defense and one punch haymakers in the face of the onslaught. The second round brought more of the same. “The Cobra” continued the against the ropes assault, dropping Adaev early in the second stanza. A vicious right hook a short time later sent Adaev butt first onto the mat. Referee Kenny Bayless had seen enough, halting the bout at 2:02. - Anthony Springer Jr.
Montiel And Molina Battle To Split Draw
In a tough opening scrap, welterweights Juan Manuel Montiel and the undefeated Carlos Molina battled to an eight round split draw. It was a tough fight to score as neither fighter did enough to truly pull away. Molina (14-0-1) appeared to be the sharper of the two fighters, but the journeyman Montiel (6-4-3) certainly didn’t arrive to lay down for the young prospect. In the end, scores were split as one judge had it 78-74 in favor of Molina while another had it 77-74 for Montiel. But the third judge saw it even 76-76 making the fight a draw. Although the decision elicited some boos from the pro Molina crowd, it was certainly fair. – Andreas Hale