by Hans Olson
This Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, Abner Mares and Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko will do it again. In their controversial first meeting back in August during the Finals of Showtime’s Bantamweight Tournament, Abner Mares repeatedly let his punches drift below the belt of Agbeko, referee Russell Mora never penalizing him for the fouls. Additionally, a flash knockdown in the first round that very well could have been ruled a slip, along with a flagrant low blow that was ruled a knockdown…certainly contributed to the final scorecards that would go in Mares’ favor.
Now less than four months later, the rematch is here. Hoping to erase any doubt as to who the best Bantamweight in the world is, Abner Mares looks to deliver a career defining performance on Saturday against Agbeko
Boxing Insider caught up with the champ just before his media workout on Tuesday.
Photo Credit: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME
Check it out:
Abner, can you tell me how training camp went going into this fight?
“As you know camp is over—this is the last week to pretty much concentrate and work on weight…and camp went great. It really did. I’m looking forward to this fight!”
So your no problems making weight or anything like that?
“No, no, not at all. I feel really good at my weight…not a problem.”
Looking back to the first Agbeko fight with the controversy regarding the low blows, how do you view the fight now a few months removed from it? Going into the rematch, what’s your your opinion on it now?
“You know what? I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself you know? I was like “oh, I have to do something out of this world (in the rematch Saturday) just to prove to people that this is my title, because I did this for that title…but I’m just going to go in there and do the same thing again, which is win. After I beat Agbeko again, it’ll be with a great performance.”
You did put on a great performance in the last fight, but how would you assess the official, Russell Mora’s performance? Having seen the fight now, how do you feel he did in that fight, and do you feel that maybe you deserved to be docked a point or two?
“Yeah no doubt. The ref could have easily just taken a point away from me early in the fight because there were some punches that were going low. Again, it wasn’t my fault. It happened because of the style, the way he fights, the way he was pulling me down. Just overall, I mean just that it happened—was never my intention. But the fact of the matter is, if Mora would have deducted a point early in the fight, I think the fight would have definitely changed. My game-plan would have changed, and none of this would have happened. But here we are. It happened you know? There was a lot of controversy with it and here we are making this rematch, so I’m going to fight him again. I just want to go in there and perform like I always do. Give a great show and beat him, beat him the right way and get the credit from the people and move on.”
Now looking into this fight…are you concerned at all that people are going to be looking for, you know…if you throw a punch that’s even borderline…even if it’s not low…
“Yeah…I’m not concerned—but I’m aware. I’m aware that the ref might be too hard…but the ref is just going to go in there and do his job. I mean like you said, if a punch goes even on the borderline and he decides to take a point away from me or just continue to warn me…I’m just definitely going to stop. I’m not looking forward to people continuing to talk about that. You know I want to give them something else to talk about, and definitely don’t want to get disqualified. So we got plan A, B, and C for that, and we’re ready mentally if that happens.”
Looking back on the first fight now, even for me personally, I was critical of the low blows. But after a while, you re-watch and see other things, the good things you did in the fight. Are you just going to focus on those things rather than worry about low blows and this and that…
“Yes. If you really look at the good things that I did in the fight, I think some things that are going to help me, are to fight with good distance, fight a smart fight, and just not get into his fight. And I definitely will still consider to work the body, because that defines me as a fighter. That’s what I like to do—work the body. Then again if we can’t, I’m definitely ready for another style, and to go and to show people a different style from Abner Mares, because I believe that we can do so much in there. Especially against an opponent like Agbeko since I’ve already fought him. I think I can do things to perform different.
The fight is in California. Are you excited about fighting in front of your hometown fans again?
I am really, really excited. I’m looking forward to Saturday. I’m fighting here at home, (in front of) a lot of people…a lot of fans in general. I mean just fans in boxing…they don’t have to be my fans…just boxing fans. There’s a lot here in LA and I’m looking forward to putting on a great performance this Saturday and gaining more fans you know? And just pretty much end a great year God willing.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, and best of luck to you Saturday night Abner.
No problem, thank you so much!
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson.