From our friends at The Koncrete Jungle, here's Abner Mares discussing his December 3 rematch with Joseph Agbeko, a fight that is currently and rather unfortunately flying under the radar thanks to its position going head-to-head with the Cotto vs Margarito pay-per-view. Mares, who beat Agbeko under highly controversial circumstances in August, says he's out to prove he's no dirty fighter:
On the rematch and the first fight controversy: "I have no problem fighting him again. As a matter of fact, I'm happy to fight him again and make things clear. ... I'm not gonna lie, there was some punches that did go low. But, you know, why? Because there was times when he was pulling my head down. There was times when he was just pulling back, and while I was throwing a body shot, he was already too far off, too far away, and punches went probably in the knee, or -- you know, not in the jewels, except in that 11th round, where I did hit him low. As a matter of fact, he blocked it with his glove. It didn't hit him there. But he went down just to get attention from the ref, to get a point taken away from me. Which I honestly thought they were going to take a point away from me. It was not my decision, the referee started counting. That wasn't me, that wasn't my call."
On Showtime commentary from the first fight: "I've maybe seen the fight twice, and the third time I had to watch it on mute, because the commentators were getting so annoying. Because from the very beginning of the first round, they were just shouting, screaming, 'Oh my God I can't believe Abner's throwing low blows.' Like I was doing it on purpose, or I was a dirty fighter."
Now I have to weigh in on this second part. First of all, I admit this takes him out of context just a bit, so make sure you watch the video. And you might think the interviewer's questions are a bit too friendly toward Mares, but let me try to even this out a little bit: The referee was the one at fault, which is what I think both are trying to get across.
Still, even though Mares says that referee Russell Mora wasn't warning him, that's not true -- Mora warned Mares six times during the fight. But Mora definitely wasn't doing anything else about it. So what was Mares supposed to do? There's a long-standing tradition in boxing that you do what you can get away with, basically. It sounds bad, and it's not great, but if the referee isn't calling it, you keep going.
Yes, Abner Mares went low. A lot. But the referee could have and should have stepped in with more than a warning, and six warnings should have alerted Mora to the fact that maybe he should actually take a point. Even Mares says in the 11th, when that absurd knockdown was called, he expected to lose a point.
And it wasn't Mora's first bad performance of the year, either. As much as the Nevada commission tried to brush it aside and defend Mora as a good referee who had a bad night, we detailed that that really isn't the case with an examination of Mora's televised performances this year, and the actual actions of Nevada, which have seen Mora relegated to lower-level fights, seemed to speak the truth more than their actual public statements.
Officials have not yet been assigned to Mares vs Agbeko II, which is taking place in California instead of Nevada.