Abner Mares defeated Joseph Agbeko by a majority decision to win the championship of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament and the IBF title in a foul-filled fight on Saturday in Las Vegas.
However, referee Russell Mora became the story of the night by failing to penalize Mares (22-0-1, 13 knockouts) for repeated low blows. That included one in the 11th round that Mora scored a knock down.
Mares won by scores of 115-111, 115-111 and 113-113. Had Mora taken a point away from Mares instead of ruling it a knock down, a 10-8 round for Mares might’ve been a 10-8 round for Agbeko, which would’ve resulted in a draw.
Mora’s performance obscured a good night for Mares, who got off to a quick start – knocking Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) down in the opening round – and outworking the Ghanian for much of the fight.
The Southern Californian also had a big edge in power punches, according to computer statistics.
However, Agbeko, fresher down the stretch, rallied in the late rounds and seemed to be in a position to draw or win when Mora made his fateful ruling on what appeared on replays to be a low blow.
Mora said in the ring afterward the punches were at the belt line, which would make them legal.
Agbeko’s handlers demanded an immediate rematch and said they would protest the result.
A full report will be posted soon.