By Mesuli Zifo
THE untimely illness suffered by IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko just a few days before his scheduled clash against Abner Mares in a Showtime Super Four final on April 23 at Nokia Center in Los Angeles, US not only robbed him of a mouthwatering clash against Mares but it nearly cost him his IBF crown.
Agbeko was in an optional defence period when he was due to face Mares but fell ill, causing Showtime to reschedule the bout for August 13 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, US.
Unfortunately the new date has shortened Agbeko’s mandatory defence obligations against South African contender Vusi Malinga who is the mandatory challenger after beating Filipino Michael Domingo in South Africa last October.
Agbeko was set to receive a notification from the IBF this past Monday ordering him to begin negotiations with the Malinga camp and conclude them on August 11, just two days before the Mares fight.
However Don King Productions (DKP) who promotes the Ghana-born champion sent a letter of request to the IBF asking the federation to extend the optional defence period so that Agbeko could have enough time to prepare for his mandatory obligations.
The letter, accompanied by $20 000 check, pleaded with the IBF to invoke Exception Rule 11 for Agbeko to participate in a voluntary defence against Mares who is rated fifth and therefore is not a mandatory challenger.
The letter went on to explain how Agbeko was a proud IBF champion after regaining his crown from Colombian Yohnny Perez last December and his determination to remain the champion and emulate his compatriot Azumah Nelson as one of the best champions to emerge from Ghana.
Despite the $20 000 payment by DKP, the IBF Board of Directors still needed to vote on the request and also get Malinga’s promoter Branco Sports Production (BSP) to file no objection.
BSP filed no objection to the extension prompting the IBF Board of Directors to unanimously vote to accept the request on the grounds that the winner between Mares and Agbeko should defend against Malinga within 90 days or no later than November 13.
Other conditions are that:
1. The bout between Agbeko and Mares must take place on August 13, 2011.
2. The contracts for this bout must be have been submitted to the IBF office by July 11, 2011.
3. The contracts must not include any clause that will interfere with the mandatory defense of the IBF Bantamweight title.
4. Both boxers must agree in writing that they will fight the IBF mandatory challenger within 90 days of the August 13, 2011 bout.
5. Both fighters must agree in writing to indemnify, hold harmless and otherwise reimburse the IBF/USBA for any legal fees or other expenses related to the granting of this exception, including but not limited to, the costs attendant to any resultant litigation.
6. Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares must comply with all of the conditions set forth in the grant of this exception or formal sanction will not issue for the proposed bout on August 13, 2011.