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Agbeko versus Mares: A Tainted Tournament Final


PhilBoxing.com




Las Vegas, Nevada ? Showtime Network?s bantamweight tournament concluded tonight with Abner Mares winning a controversial UD victory over IBF champ Joseph Agbeko. The fight was marred by continuous low blows from Mares which referee Russell Mora did not penalize.

A very telling low blow by Mares in the eleventh round of the fight which dropped Agbeko was not censured by Mora and instead was called a knockdown. A frustrated Agbeko protested to no avail as Mora continued his count. This was the second knockdown of the fight as Agbeko was dropped early in the first round as he slipped and at the same time got caught with a left hook from Mares. Agbeko?s trainer had to be restrained at the end of that round as he rushed in the middle of the ring to confront Mora.

The fight minus the controversial non calls by Mora was otherwise a great fight as both Mares and Agbeko had rounds to shine on their own. Mares started strong early in the fight as he backed Agbeko with shots to the head and the body.

Agbeko started his comeback when he hurt Mares in the fourth with an overhand right. He utilized that same punch throughout the fight which left considerable swelling in Mares? right temple. A cut suffered by Mares in the sixth round from an accidental clash of heads did not help the swelling either. Mares showed his resiliency as he proved that he can take Agbeko?s big shots and come back with counter shots of his own. Agbeko rallied on the second half of the fight as Mares filed an early lead but his momentum was stopped on the 10th and the fateful eleventh round from the Mora blunder.

But the continuous unpenalized low blows were the night?s disappointment not only for Agbeko and his corner but to everyone who watched the fight. Mora?s non call was heavily criticized by the ringside crew that was announcing the fight for Showtime and rightfully so. Russel Mora who was interviewed after the fight defended his actions and maintained that he made the right call of the last knockdown.

A replay of his call was showed to him by Showtime?s Jim Gray and Mora still refused to admit his mistake. ?It has a different view point from looking at it here in slow motion, (but) from where I saw it live, I saw it as a fair punch in the belt line and that was my call.? he asserted. He refused to admit the error despite the glaring proof in the giant screen of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Resort.

The tournament was well received by fans and the boxing world as it fitted four of the division?s finest in a Final Four format. The hopes were for the winner to fight WBO and WBC champion; Nonito Donaire in the future. The result of it makes it a bitter pill to swallow for everyone, all because of the incompetence of the third man on the ring.

Questions will remain and continue to linger because of the closeness of the score cards after the fight. If the right deductions were made on Mares and the questionable knockdown nullified, this would have been a draw on the cards. That is too late now for Agbeko whose team plans to file a protest to the International Boxing Federation (IBF). A protest which clearly mandates a prompt explanation and subsequent action from the IBF. This should be done not only for Team Agbeko, but for the fans and the sport of boxing as well.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rich Mazon .


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