Lem Satterfield

Exclusive: Agbeko on Mares, Mora, the low blows and the rematch

Joseph Agbeko said he spent much of Sunday doubled over in agony, taking pain-killing medication and walking gingerly. Being smashed in the groin over and over by another guy’s fists can do that to a man.

That’s what happened to Agbeko on Saturday night in Las Vegas, where rival Abner Mares repeatedly nailed him with low blows without being penalized by referee Russell Mora en route to a controversial majority decision that dethroned Agbeko as IBF bantamweight titleholder.

But on Tuesday, while awaiting a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to his home in the Bronx, N.Y., Agbeko received a call on his cellular phone that made him jump for joy.

The message was from Dana Jamison, senior vice president of the company named for Agbeko’s promoter, Don King. She called to say that the IBF had ordered an immediate rematch with Mares and a shot at redemption for Agbeko.

“Dana Jamison, she called me and she told me about the decision from the IBF that we had the rematch and everything,” said Agbeko, who is actual middle name is “King Kong.” “I was so, so, so happy. I am so grateful to the IBF, and I was so grateful to my fans.

“I was jumping for joy. I was so happy that the IBF was fair enough to give me the second chance to prove to the world who the real champion is.”

Replays appear to show that a hard punch by Mares landed squarely on Agbeko’s groin area, dropping the native of Ghana, Africa, to his hands and knees.

Mora nevertheless credited Mares with a knockdown, resulting in a 10-8 round in his favor. Had Mares been penalized, the fight would’ve ended in a draw and Agbeko would’ve kept his belt.

But IBF President Darryl Peoples ruled in favor of Agbeko after having reviewed a replay of the bout and determining “that inappropriate conduct by the referee affected the outcome of the fight.”

RingTV.com spoke to Agbeko in about the fight in this Q&A:

RingTV.com: What were your thoughts after Mares wasn’t penalized for the hard shots to your crotch in the 10th and the 11th rounds, the last one being the knockdown?

Joseph Agbeko: In the 10th round, it was very painful. Any other boxer would have stopped fighting if he had gotten hit by that punch. But I thought of my fans and I said, “No way, I have to continue.”

So I kept fighting. So when I caught the punch, the low blow in the 11th round, it was a very severe one. I went down thinking that the referee was going to take a point away from Mares.

But he kept counting, and I lost points, 10-8. He wasn’t giving me anything, so I just had to stand up in the ring and fight.

RingTV.com: Did you have a hard time walking for a couple of days?

JA: The following day, on Sunday, that was very painful for me. The doctor had to give me some pain killers to take down my pain.

So now I’m feeling very strong and I’m feeling better and I’m ready to get into the ring with Abner Mares again. Any time, any day.

RingTV.com: What would you say to those who believe that you were purposely pulling Mares’ head down, causing his his punches to stray below the belt?

JA: Mares was going down low on me. I wasn’t intentionally pulling his head down. Once in a while, maybe my hands would go to his neck. But I was not pulling his head down on purpose.

Even when Mares hit me below the belt in the 11th round, you could see that we were not even close to each other. He just stepped forward, and then he hit me there.

So that wasn’t the cause of the low blow. I just felt like he was intentionally punching me below the belt.

RingTV.com: What kept you going through the pain of the punches you were receiving?

JA: The blows were making me weak. But the energy that kept me going was my fans and my supporters and Showtime, because I was fighting on a national network.

An international network. A lot of people are watching me all over the world. My fans were watching me at the Hard Rock arena. Even if I felt weak, I still had to sacrifice.

RingTV.com: Were you ever tempted to return fire or retaliate with a low blow of your own?

JA: Ah, Yeah, I thought about it a couple of times. But I’m a disciplined boxer, so when I’m in the ring, I have to control myself from the very beginning.

Even when the referee was warning me, and not him, I still have to participate and do the right thing.

RingTV.com: Do you believe that the rematch will actually happen?

JA: I am very, very confident that the rematch will happen because the IBF, they have their reputation to protect. I was just so happy that they made this decision. I respect the IBF. I’m grateful to the IBF for making a fair decision.

So they are a very good sanctioning body, and I believe that the rematch is going to happen. I just can’t wait to get back into the ring to prove to the world that I’m the best.

RingTV.com: What would you say to Mares if you and he were alone, face to face?

JA: If I was to say something to Mares, I would have to tell him that he had his chance, when he had Russell Mora to support him.

But now, he’s going to have to face me with a fair referee and fair judges and everything, and he’s not going to enjoy fighting me this time. The next time, he’s going to see the real King Kong.

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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