Alright, yesterday I gave my prediction for the other major boxing contest being staged this evening, Margarito-Cotto II; so I feel it’s only fitting I take the time to do the same for Mares-Agbeko II as well.
Intended to serve as the finale of Showtime’s 4-man Bantamweight Tournament, Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko’s initial clash this past August was a hard fought and thrilling match-up that was unfortunately mired by some of the poorest officiating in recent memory.
Throughout the entirety of the fight, Mares, with his “shotgun” style of flurrying and body punching, landed and ungodly number of flagrant low blows on Agbeko.
It should be noted, that Mares was repeatedly warned, and eventually penalized for low blows in his previous bout, against Vic Darchinyan, a fight in which he was also “gifted” a knockdown.
Despite the number of these fouls accumulating quite comfortably into the double digits, referee Russell Mora saw fit to warn Mares for hitting low only a few times in the fight, never once threatening to take a point away, let alone actually doing it.
Worse yet, Mora repeatedly scolded Agbeko for pushing Mares’ head down, which is something he was in fact doing, but nowhere near as critical offense as what Mares was doing.
Mora also saw fit to award Mares 2 knockdowns of debatable legitimacy.
The first down easily could’ve gone either way, as Agbeko tripped and was hit with a punch on his way down, but the second was a flagrant low blow ruled as a knockdown via a bodyshot:
It’s impossible to say whether boxing’s long history of corruption reared it’s ugly head that night in Las Vegas, but despite all the controversy, the fight still managed to impress.
Mares took the lead early, throwing in volume and using his speed and pressure (and low blows) to smother Agbeko.
Despite the torrent of punches coming his way, Agbeko’s stellar head movement and defense allowed him avoid a great deal of Mares’ punches, however the sheer number of them being thrown led to Mares taking most of the rounds on sheer volume.
Even so, Agbeko’s accurate punching, in particular his piercing jab and overhand right, allowed him to capitalize on Mares somewhat porous defense, leading to him hurting Mares on at least one occasion while staying competitive throughout.
While the low-blows made it difficult to judge the fight fairly, or even look upon it as a legitimate contest, at the end of the night I felt Mares won on points, though the rounds Agbeko took were won far more decisively due to his cleaner and more effective punching.
Coming into the rematch this evening, I feel Mares likely has the advantage due the point earning nature of his high volume style, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Agbeko, the superior boxer; is able to pick him apart due to lessons learned from their previous fight.
Agbeko only has one other rematch on his record, a back to back series of fights with Yonnhy Perez, and despite losing the first match fairly decisively, in the return bout he came back and won by nearly as wide a margin as he lost previously.
While I don’t discount Mares’ abilities as a fighter, his style heavily favors guts and volume, resulting in him taking a lot of punishment, but otherwise winning rounds on sheer busyness.
Agbeko on the other hand, strikes me as much more multi-dimensional fighter, one that can box, brawl, and assume a defensive posture with pretty much the same level of comfort.
Don’t get me wrong, putting aside the fouling and the false knockdown or 2, in my mind Mares still did enough to win the first fight, or at least earn a draw, however he did so while eating a lot of heavy punches and gassing out in the last several rounds.
Taking into consideration the fact that Agbeko was being socked in the sack all night, and yet still managed to give Mares a run for his money, I’d say Agbeko’s chances of victory in the rematch are pretty good.
Then again, Agbeko entered into the first fight somewhat overweight, which at Bantamweight and 31 years of age, is usually a sign he had trouble making weight.
It really sucks to have to bring facts like this into consideration, but any time you have a fighter failing to make weight at this level of the game, it’s hard not to think it’s going to effect his performance.
I’ve heard that both fighters made weight quite comfortably this time around, so hopefully that’s the case, but if the fight goes down and Agbeko looks like shit, I know what I’m probably going to blame it on…
That being said, in case you couldn’t tell by know, I’ll be rooting for Agbeko!
My official prediction is that of Agbeko winning by a split decision, though I won’t at all be surprised if Mares ekes out of a unanimous decision due to his judge friendly style.
Besides, if his previous fights in this tournament are any indication, it would appear “someone” of considerable import wants him to win…
Agbeko, SD 12.