Joseph Agbeko vs. Abner Mares (1st meeting)
2011-08-13 : Abner Mares 117½ lbs beat Joseph Agbeko 118 lbs by MD in round 12 of 12
- Location: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, The Joint, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Russell Mora
- Judge: Adalaide Byrd 115-111
- Judge: C.J. Ross 113-113
- Judge: Oren Shellenberger 115-111
- Press row scores: Andreas Hale: 114-112 for Mares, Kevan Iole: 114-112 for Mares, Lance Pugmire: 115-111 for Mares
Mares started very fast in the first round and pressured Agbeko, who appeared surprised by his opponent's aggression. Agbeko suffered a flash knockdown in round 1, as he slipped right when Mares was catching him with a grazing left. Mares continued to have success in rounds 2 and 3, although Agbeko was starting to land his jab and straight right with more frequency. In round 4 Agbeko connected with an overhand right that buckled Mares' legs, but Mares was able to stay on his feet and quickly regained his composure to finish the round. A clash of heads opened up a cut above the left eye of Mares in round 6. Mares' pace visibly slowed in the 7th round and for the rest of the bout he fought more cautiously, looking to counter Agbeko's punches. Agbeko seized control in round 8 and till the end of the fight, with Mares still landing punches while flurrying in spots. In the 11th round Agbeko went down after a low blow by Mares, yet the referee ruled it a knockdown to everyone's surprise. As soon as round 11 ended, Agbeko's corner angrily protested to the referee for his decision to call it a legitimate knockdown. After the final bell, Agbeko had to be restrained by his cornermen, as he repeatedly tried to get to the referee to protest about Mares' low blows. Mares threw and landed a number of low blows throughout the fight, with the ref only warning him a couple times, without ever taking away a point. Mares' workrate and powerpunching in the first half of the fight earned him the victory, although the judges' scores might have been different if the referee had made the correct call in round 11.
Referee Russel Mora was the first one to be interviewd by Showtime's Jim Gray right after the decision was announced. Gray repeatedly confronted Mora about his decision to not take a point away from Mares for the low blows and particularly about the knockdown in round 11, ending his interview by saying to the ref: "You're way off"!