If Don King is successful in getting the IBF to demand an immediate rematch of Saturday night’s controversial majority decision by Abner Mares over Joseph Agbeko — who was repeatedly nailed by low blows without Mares being penalized — it wouldn’t be the first .
IBF official Lindsay Tucker said that King filed a protest and was granted an immediate rematch over rules violations after his cruiserweight Steve Cunningham lost a split decision to Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland in their IBF title bout in November 2006.
Cunningham won the rematch by a majority decision in May 2007. Cunningham-Wlodarczyk I and II were each contested in Poland.
“On that fight, a drug test was not taken by either guy,” said Tucker. “Cunningham’s people appealed because under our rules it is required that there must be a drug test for both fighters.”
On Saturday night, King made it known that he would appeal to the IBF for an immediate return bout on the basis that referee Russell Mora allowed Mares to land an excessive number of low blows directly on or near Agbeko’s groin area.
Replays appear to show that an extremely hard low blow by Mares landed squarely on Agbeko’s crotch area, which sent the then-titleholder to his hands and knees. Somehow Mora ruled it a legal blow and awarded Mares a knock down, which gave him a 10-8 round.
Judges Adalaide Byrd and Oren Shellenberger scored the fight for Mares 115-111, with C.J. Ross having it even at 113-113.
“If Don King files the protest,” said Tucker, who has not seen the Mares-Agbeko fight. “Then we would have to look at it, review it, and then make a determination.”
As he did with the Cunningham fight, Tucker said that an appeal filed by King would have to be accompanied by “a non-refundable fee of $10,000 along with a letter and a tape of the fight, and it has to be done within 10 days of the fight.”
“That could lead to an official hearing, where we appoint three people to review the evidence and determine whether or not some rules were violated if there is justification. Then we would come back with a verdict,” said Tucker.
“Most of the time, we get an official appeal and we bring in a panel with the $10,000. That’s what the money is for. We have to bring in a panel, put them up in hotels, feed them and have this whole hearing play out where both sides give their testimony and then the panel comes through with a decision.”
TARVER, BERNSTEIN RIP MORA
The video appeared to show that referee Russell Mora was in position to see the punch as Mares’ hard, left hand clearly nailed Agbeko squarely on his crowned jewels, causing the soon-to-be ex-beltholder to drop to all fours.
Mora, nevertheless, ruled that Agbeko had gone down from a legal punch, meaning that Mares had to be credited for a 10-8 round.
“Low blow. He was in perfect position,” said Showtime’s Antonio Tarver. “This referee has stolen a good fight from us because he’s not doing the job that he’s been paid to do.”
Tarver’s broadcast-mate Al Berstein, concurred.
“How could you not see that? He’s right there,” said Bernstein. “This is the most disgraceful performance by a referee that I’ve seen in the last 15 years.”
GRAY, MORA GO TOE-TO-TOE ON THE LOW BLOWS
Here is how it went:
Gray: You raised the arm of Abner Mares, but the question is, would he have won without your help this evening?
Mora: I don’t help the fighters. I enforce the rules. First and foremost, I have to enforce the rules. Those punches were on the belt line. It was a fair punch. I have to call it fair. It would be unfair to give the other guy an advantage just because he says it’s low. I saw the punch. It was on the belt line. I’ve got to call that a fair punch.
Gray: Well, Russell, let’s give you a chance to look at it again, because I would dispute it, Al Bernstein would and I’m sure that our audience would. Tell us based on what you see now if you feel that this was blow the belt.
[Shows the replay of the knockdown]
Mora: It has a different view point now that I’m looking at it here in slow motion, but from when I saw it live, I saw that it was a fair punch. It was on the belt line and that was my call.
Gray: But now that you see it on the replay, do you feel that you’ve made a mistake?
Mora: I’d like to take my time and see that.
Gray: Well we can see it again…
Mora: I would like to get with my other referees and ask them that question and then we can sit down and talk about it. It was above the belt line, it was a fair punch. It parried off of his glove and that’s a fair punch.
Gray: With all due respect, you have a very difficult job, and I have a high respect for referees, and so does Al Bernstein. But this quite possibly, he [Bernstein said,] is one of the worst officiated fights that he’s seen in years. How would you rate your performance?
Mora: I think that it’s a shame for anybody to say that.
Gray: But isn’t it also a shame for the fans to see nine, 10, 12 or 15 low blows and the guy is getting a warning, and you’re giving Agbeko warnings throughout the night, and you barely said anything to Mares?
Mora: If it was a low blow, then you would be 100 percent correct. But those are not low blows. They’re on the belt line.
Gray: Well you’re way off, Russell.
Mora: Okay, thank you very much.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org