Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Don King, the representative of bantamweight Joseph Agbeko, who lost his IBF title to Abner Mares in a controversial manner at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas on Saturday, August 13, believes the outcome of the fight – that saw a number of Mares’ lowblows go unpunished by referee Russel Mora – “discredited” world championship boxing and the state of Nevada. Furthermore, the iconic promoter expressed his delight that the IBF have ordered a do-over to be booked within 120 days.
Former champion Agbeko dropped a majority decision to Mares (for full report and scorecard click here) but was fouled on numerous occasions in acts that spoiled what had otherwise been an exciting contest between two of the top performers in the 118lb weight class.
In defeat, Agbeko (28-3-0, 22ko) lost his world title, the Winner Takes All bantamweight tournament organised by Showtime and suffered his third loss. The tough Ghanaian was understandably vexed at what was widely regarded to be incompetent refereeing and King immediately lobbied with the IBF to order a rematch – something the organisational body have duly agreed to for what they deem “inappropriate conduct” by the referee.
The IBF studied the 12-round contest and highlighted the illegal shots that Mares (22-0-1, 13ko) struck Agbeko with, including one in the eleventh round that felled Agbeko to his hands and knees that Mora ruled a legitimate punch and began a punch – effectively dooming the defending champion to defeat.
A statement read: “In according with IBF/USBA Rule 3.D., the IBF is ordering a rematch between Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares for the IBF bantamweight title which must be held within the next 120 days or by December 14, 2011.”
King was swift in expressing his gratitude that justice has been done:”I am pleased to see that the IBF took such swift action in ordering an immediate rematch. They wasted no time in determining that Russell Mora, the referee assigned to Agbeko versus Mares, was in violation of their rules by displaying “inappropriate conduct” for ignoring repeated low blows against my fighter, Joseph Agbeko.
“I commend [the] IBF for confirming what everyone who witnessed the bout already knew. Too often, the first inclination when human frailty is exposed is to sweep it under the rug as though it never happened. It is to their credit that when obvious mistakes are made, it’s best to recognise them and attempt to immediately right the wrongs.
“It was a triple-blow against boxing by hurting fighters, discrediting world championship boxing and the great state of Nevada, where so many of boxing’s most memorable bouts have been staged. This has caused an undeserved negative shadow over Nevada. There should be an investigation to clear any and all doubts as to what occurred in this fight. The people deserve to know more about whatever caused this man to do what he did.”
He concluded by remarking: “I look forward to giving two great young athletes, Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares, the fair playing field they deserve to display their wonderful boxing skills.”