In the first defense of his International Boxing Federation bantamweight world title, Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs) left little doubt this time that he is still the IBF king at 118 pounds with an electrifying unanimous decision over Joseph King Kong Agbeko (28-4, 22 KOs) in the main event Saturday night on SHOWTIME®.
Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, also took home the World Boxing Council Silver bantamweight belt with scores of 118-110 on all three judges’ scorecards in the 12-round rematch of their controversial August fight which Mares won by majority decision in Las Vegas.
In an equally thrilling co-feature, Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KOs) of Panama City, Panama, was victorious in his United States and SHOWTIME debut defending his World Boxing Association Bantamweight Super title with a 12-round unanimous decision against former two-time world champion Vic “The Raging Bull” Darchinyan (37-4-1, 27 KOs) of Sydney, Australia, by scores of 116-111, 117-110, 120-107.
Cut above the eye by an Agbeko jab in the second round, Mares relied on the handy work of cutman Miguel Diaz. “I asked Miguel, ‘Are we going to stop the fight?’ And he was like ‘What? I’m the best. No way we’re stopping this fight,’ “said Mares, who landed 183 power punches to 107 for Agbeko. “(The blood) bothered me a few times because he was only going for my eye, but I knew I could get through it.”
SHOWTIME announcer Al Bernstein scored the fight 116-112 for Mares while Antonio Tarver had it 115-113 in favor of the champ.
“Tonight they saw the real Abner Mares,” Mares said. “I’ve beat him once and now I’ve beaten him again.”
Asked what was next by SHOWTIME’S Jim Gray, the 26-year-old Mares responded, “Maybe Nonito Doniaire. Whoever they want to put in front of me. I might even move up to 122. Tonight the world saw my true boxing skills. I knew I was winning the whole fight.”
The 31-year-old Agbeko, who hails from the Bronx, N.Y., and is originally from Accra, Ghana, said he was asked in pre-fight press conferences if he had to knock Mares out to win in Mares’ home state. “I always told them no,” Agbeko said. “If I win I deserve to win. Right now, I don’t have anything to protest. I don’t feel like a loser. I think this decision is unfair. You shouldn’t have to knock out your opponent to win in California.”
The victim of several low blows that weren’t called in the first fight, Agbeko added, “I thought I fought better tonight than the last fight.”
The esteemed referee Dr. Lou Moret, a 28-year veteran, warned Mares just once of a low blow in the sixth round.
In the biggest fight of his career, the 26-year-old Moreno dominated Darchinyan connecting on 216 total punches to 101 in the 12-round win.
“If (the public) didn’t know about him before tonight, they do now,” Bernstein said of Moreno.
“I’m extremely happy tonight,” Moreno said. “I will show more in the future. I was a little nervous because it’s my first fight in the States. He couldn’t catch me tonight.”
Said Darchinyan: “I just couldn’t figure him out. I was missing the whole time. I couldn’t find him and that was the fight. I knew he was just going to go for points. I knew this but still I lost the fight.”