Mares Defeats Agbeko by Decision in Rematch

December 4, 2011

Abner Mares Hits Joseph Agbeko With a Left
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

Anaheim, CA -- In a competitive bout, Abner Mares defeated Joseph King Kong Agbeko, winning their rematch by unanimous decision Saturday night in front of 4,098 passionate fans at the Honda Center. The victory was Mares' first defense of his IBF Bantamweight belt, and more importantly, it steered free of the controversy that plagued their first encounter.

The fight proved to be an action-packed and spirited affair, as both men entered the ring having plenty to prove.

For Mares, the rematch offered him an opportunity to show he could defeat Agbeko without having to resort to throwing multiple low blows.  Mares prevailed in their previous fight, but seemingly had an unfair advantage when his borderline fouls drew no point deductions from referee Russell Mora.

For Agbeko, the fight provided him the chance to show that in a fair and foul-free fight, he would be the better man in the ring.

Things got off to a rough start for Mares, as Agbeko came out aggressively in Round One, pressuring his opponent and throwing repeated left hooks.  Agbeko's strong start delighted his enthusiastic Ghanaian fans, and was quite a departure from his sluggish opening in their prior bout.

By Round Two, a cut had opened over Mares eye, and for a moment it appeared as if it might turn out to be Agbeko's night.  However, the young champion was able to rally later in the round when an overeager Agbeko swung wildly and missed, taking himself out of proper defensive position.  That mistake allowed Mares to pounce, unleashing combinations while Agbeko was on the ropes.

Joseph Agbeko Lands a Left on Abner Mares
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

In fact, the cut ultimately might have hurt Agbeko's game more than it helped, as he became overly focused on attacking Mares' eye with jabs and left hooks. As a result, he neglected his effective right hand, save for a few moments in Round Eight when he put it to good use.

Mares was well aware of his foe's plan of attack, stating, "he was only going for my eye."

The remainder of the fight almost fell into a pattern round after round, as Agbeko would stalk Mares and often win the first minute, but Mares would then close each round with a flurry, often winning the exchanges with his handspeed and combination punching.

Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko Exchange
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

As a result, Mares was able to steal some of the fight's closer rounds.  He would land 183 power punches compared to 107 landed by Agbeko.

Mares attributed his success to his shift in training, explaining that "last time I was a little bit stocky. This time I had less muscle and was faster."

With that extra speed, Mares scored cleanly in the exchanges, stating that he "closed every round like a champion."

The three judges all scored the fight 118-110 for Mares, while Showtime ringside commentators Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver scored it for Mares 116-112 and 115-113, respectively.  The DSH had the fight scored 117-111, also for Mares.

Best of all, the fouls so prevalent in the first fight were absent in the rematch.  In Round Two, Mares threw two questionable low blows that prompted Agbeko's corner to get in the face of referee Lou Moret, demanding a point deduction.

Later, in Round Six, a Mares low blow would prompt Moret to issue a warning.

For the remainder of the bout, however, Mares' shots were legal. More importantly, he remained committed to the body, unleashing some flashy shoeshine combinations throughout the bout.

With the win, Mares improved to 23-0-1, and put himself in line for a potential showdown with Nonito Donaire.  Agbeko dropped to 28-4.

Undercard: Anselmo Moreno Beats Vic Darchinyan By Decision

In a WBA Bantamweight Super Championship bout, Panama's Anselmo Moreno took down veteran star Vic "The Raging Bull" Darchinyan via decision thanks to his effective counterpunching.

Vic Darchinyan Stalks Anselmo Moreno
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

Darchinyan was the aggressor throughout the fight, charging Moreno and trying to unleash his whipping overhand lefts to the head. However, Moreno was well-prepared for Darchinyan's attack, as he consistently ducked his opponent's shots or caught him coming in with textbook right uppercuts to the body.

In Round Six, Moreno hit Darchinyan with a low blow, causing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to warn Moreno.  After Darchinyan was given a brief period to recuperate, the Raging Bull put forth an inspired retaliatory body assault, backing up his opponent with intense pressure.

Had he followed that blueprint, Darchinyan might have had better success. Instead, he resorted to headhunting for the remainder of the fight, and seemed to lack a Plan B when Moreno was able to counter his predictable attack.

In contrast, the southpaw Moreno displayed a committed body attack all night, at one point backing up and perhaps hurting the tough Darchinyan in Round Eight.

Anselmo Moreno Counters Vic Darchinyan
Tri Le / The Daily Sports Herald

With Darchinyan throwing the wider, looping punches, and Moreno unleashing his straighter 1-2 counter combinations, it appeared that he would break down Darchinyan in the late rounds.

However, Darchinyan gave a determined effort up to the closing bell, as he continued to pursue Moreno, but just could not effectively land his shots.

Moreno clearly was the more accurate fighter, landing 216 of his 496 total punches, compared to Darchinyan's 101 of 555 total punches.

The three judges scored the fight 116-111, 117-110, 120-107, all in favor of Moreno (Darchinyan had a point deducted in Round Four).

And while nobody, including the Darychinyan camp, disputed that Moreno was the winner, all parties seemed to agree that the 120-107 score by judge Jose Cobian was unreasonable.

Darchinyan's promoter, Gary Shaw, demanded that Cobian "never be allowed to judge fights" in California again.

Moreno improved to 32-1-1 with the victory. Darchinyan fell to 37-4-1.

Bonus Interview: One-on-One with Robert "Ghost" Guerrero

Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero was in attendance at Saturday's event, and seemed in positive spirits after his recent shoulder surgery.

When asked how the shoulder was doing, he indicated that it was coming along "fine."

Guerrero also discussed his bold future plans, stating that he wants a fight with "Floyd Mayweather at '47, or with [Amir] Khan at 140."

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald

Photographs by Tri Le
Photography Editor for The Daily Sports Herald

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