Mares, Agbeko win bantamweight semifinal bouts
TACOMA, WASH: Abner Mares won a split decision and Joseph Agbeko was a unanimous winner Saturday night in the semifinals of the Bantamweight Tournament.
Agbeko (28-2) beat Yonnhy Perez (20-2-1), receiving winning scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 115-111 from the judges at the Emerald Queen Casino.
Mares (21-0-1) edged Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1) in the event that featured four of the world's top 118-pound fighters. Two judges scored it 115111 and 113-112 for Mares, and the other had it 115-111 for Darchinyan.
Mares and Darchinyan each had one knockdown. Darchinyan opened a cut on Mares' left hairline in the first round that bled throughout the 12-round bout.
Mares and Agbeko will meet in the championship round next spring.
After a slow start, the 25year-old Mares ralled after Darchinyan dominated the first few rounds in the opening fight with a strong left. Mares won despite losing a point in the fourth round for his second low blow after a warning from the referee.
That penalty seemed to ignite Mares, and he had Darchinyan up against the ropes in the fifth and knocked him down with a left in the seventh.
"Our plan was to push him back because we know he likes to bully people," Mares said. "He has a tremendous punch. I proved that I could take punches. I kept pushing him back. I heard him moan every time I landed a body shot."
Mares, a popular fighter in his native Mexico, jumped on the ropes in each corner and waved to the crowd even before his win was announced.
"I obviously knew it was going to be a split decision because I close rounds like I always do," Mares said. "It was a hard fight, my hardest fight ever."
The Armenia-born Darchinyan knocked down Mares with a left in the second round. But the 34-year-old former two-division champion seemed to tire in the later rounds.
" It's very disgusting," Darchinyan said about the decision. "I think, of course, I won. By three to four rounds, I was in front."
Darchinyan is considered among the heaviest punchers in the 118-pound division.
"I wanted to stop him by uppercut, by hook," Darchinyan said.
Darchinyan, who fights out of Australia, lost for the first time in four fights since losing by unanimous decision to Agbeko in July 2009.
"He is a tough kid, fooling me, pushing me," Darchinyan said.
The tournament originally was scheduled for Leon, Mexico, but Showtime did a site survey and realized that the cost for staging the event there - including security in a region that has been besieged by violence among the drug cartels - would be prohibitive. When no venue could be secured in Los Angeles, the event was moved to Tacoma.
In the second bout of the night, the 30-year-old Agbeko returned to the ring for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to Perez in October 2009 in Las Vegas. -PB News
HONG KONG: Riders compete at the Dublin Handicap race during the Cathay Pacific International Races at the Sha Tin Racecourse on December 12, 2010 in Hong Kong. -Afp