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  Mares & Mora Defeat Agbeko

Report & Photos By Roy & Marlene Marquez

 

Abner Mares defeated Joseph Agbeko by majority decision to capture the IBF Bantamweight belt and lay claim to the SHOWTIME bantamweight tournament crown. But the tournament finale did anything but bring closure to the question of who reigns supreme at 118 lbs.

Referee Russell Mora may have had a hand in the outcome; a no-no for the third man in the ring. “He head butted me. He hit me low. He stepped on my foot and the referee called it a knockdown”, exclaimed Agbeko. “I felt as if I had two opponents in the ring, Abner Mares and the referee.”

The low blow-ruled knock down in the 11th would not have changed the outcome of the fight, but in combination with Mora’s failure to deduct points from Mares for low blows it might have. Mora repeatedly warned Mares but failed to take action.

The road for Agbeko and Mares to The Bantamweight Tournament Final had it share of detours and delays. Slated for December 11, 2010 in Leon, Mexico, tournament directors moved the semifinals to Tacoma, WA when concerns about fighter safety arose. Once in the cozy confines of Tacoma’s Emerald Queen Casino, Agbeko reclaimed the IBF belt from Yonnhy Perez and Mares won a career defining fight against two division champion Vic Darchinyan.

With the finals pairing set, Agbeko v. Mares was set for April 23, 2011 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, CA. But a long flight for Agbeko messed up his back and the fighters’ plans. Agbeko was diagnosed with sudden onset sciatica and had to call the fight off. “I was surprised a thing like this could happen to me, but I knew in my heart that my career was not going to end this way. I mostly felt very bad that our first fight could not come off as scheduled.” Mares took the road bump in stride. “Naturally, it was difficult for me when our fight was cancelled, but eventually I got over it. I took a few weeks off and then was back in the gym.” Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports, is just happy the finale is set. "This tournament concept has already delivered three excellent match-ups and the best is yet to come with this final. I am proud of Joseph and Abner for staying on course to finish what they started. May the best man win."

Mares came out the aggressor, landing a sweeping left hook that was the first telling blow of the bout. Doubling the hook to the body, Mares pushed Agbeko to the ropes where a glancing blow directed an off-balance Agbeko through the ropes for a knockdown. Agbeko looked more comfortable in the second and landed more than his share of hooks. But Mares remained in control of the tempo and continued his march forward.

Agbeko worked his way into the rounds behind a snappy jab, but worked his way back into fight when he buckled Mares with a straight right hand mid way through the fourth. When the fighters traded hooks, Mares’ strength prevailed. But when Agbeko worked the jab he took control. The jab stopped Mares in his tracks and gave Agbeko the room he needed to operate.

Agbeko surged from the seventh on, outworking Mares and backing him up. Agbeko appeared to have things headed his way when Mares landed a low blow in the 11th that dropped the Ghanaian to his knees. Referee Russell Mora ruled the blow legal and started counting. Following the round the Agbeko corner became unglued and had to be separated from Mora. Agbeko won the final round when Mares appeared content to take it to the scorecards.

Ring announcer Jimmy Lenin Jr. announced a 115-111, 115-111, 113-113 split decision. A copy of the Nevada State Athletic Commission official score card confirmed. Interestingly, the SHOWTIME score card reported a 115-111, 114-112, 114-112 Mares unanimous decision.

Now that the tournament is settled (though the outcome is anything but) it’s time to address the other elephant in the room: Nonito Doniare. Both Agbeko and Mares had their sights focused on the task at hand, but neither man could completely shut down talk of the world’s other best bantamweight. Nor would they shut down the prospect of fighting him. “I definitely believe the winner of this tournament should be called the top bantamweight in the world. To be the best, you have to fight the best and that’s what we have done”, explained Mares. “Other guys were invited to participate, but declined. That’s their business, but I’m sure I’ll be fighting one of them at some point.”


Off-Air Results:

 

Mexican-American heavyweight Eric Molina stopped Warren Browning 24 seconds into the third to win the vacant WBC United States Heavyweight title by KO. Molina (18-1) used his height (6’6”) and length (84” reach) to land right hands over the top. Browning (14-2-1) started fast and came out swinging but couldn’t deal with Molina’s right hand. “He came out wild and I stayed calm, got a feel, and I took him out”, said Molina.
 

U.S. Olympian and former Flyweight world champion Eric “Little Hands of Steel” Morel outclassed Daniel Quevedo for four rounds before Quevedo retired on his stool before the start of the fifth. Morel (45-2) scored a standing 8-count in the first and dropped Quevedo (13-12-2) with an uppercut in the second on route to two 10-8 rounds. After absorbing more punishment in the third and fourth, Quevedo smartly called it quits between rounds.

In a WBA FEDECARIBE Super Lightweight title tilt, two-time Cuban National Champion Angelo Santana defeated Ramzan Adaev by TKO at 2:02 of the second round. With the stoppage Santana continued his winning ways and is now 11-0 in the professional ranks. Adaev (8-1-1) could not have won the title having weighted in above the super lightweight limit at 148 lbs.

In the opening bout of the night, Carlos Molina fought to an eight round split draw with Juan Manuel Montiel. Molina (14-0-1) landed the harder punches but was consistently outworked throughout the bout. Molina’s weight may have contributed to his sluggish performance. He weighed in at 143 lbs, a full six pound heavier than Montiel (6-4-3). The bout was scored 78-74 for Molina, 77-75 for Montiel and 76-76.

Mexican-American heavyweight Eric Molina stopped Warren Browning 24 seconds into the third to win the vacant WBC United States Heavyweight title by KO. Molina (18-1) used his height (6’6”) and length (84” reach) to land right hands over the top. Browning (14-2-1) started fast and came out swinging but couldn’t deal with Molina’s right hand. “He came out wild and I stayed calm, got a feel, and I took him out”, said Molina.

U.S. Olympian and former Flyweight world champion Eric “Little Hands of Steel” Morel outclassed Daniel Quevedo for four rounds before Quevedo retired on his stool before the start of the fifth. Morel (45-2) scored a standing 8-count in the first and dropped Quevedo (13-12-2) with an uppercut in the second on route to two 10-8 rounds. After absorbing more punishment in the third and fourth, Quevedo smartly called it quits between rounds.

In a WBA FEDECARIBE Super Lightweight title tilt, two-time Cuban National Champion Angelo Santana defeated Ramzan Adaev by TKO at 2:02 of the second round. With the stoppage Santana continued his winning ways and is now 11-0 in the professional ranks. Adaev (8-1-1) could not have won the title having weighted in above the super lightweight limit at 148 lbs.

In the opening bout of the night, Carlos Molina fought to an eight round split draw with Juan Manuel Montiel. Molina (14-0-1) landed the harder punches but was consistently outworked throughout the bout. Molina’s weight may have contributed to his sluggish performance. He weighed in at 143 lbs, a full six pound heavier than Montiel (6-4-3). The bout was scored 78-74 for Molina, 77-75 for Montiel and 76-76.



 

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