By Mesuli Zifo
THE camp of South African fighter Vusi Malinga is consulting professional advisers over the IBF’s decision to bypass Malinga for a mandatory shot at newly crowned IBF bantamweight champion Abner Mares.
This follows the IBF’s decision to order Mares to grant deposed champion Joseph Agbeko an immediate rematch following the controversial handling of their IBF bantamweight title clash by referee Russell Mora when he allowed Mares to get away with a series of illegal blows and wrongly called knockdowns against Agbeko, which were induced by low blows.
Mora’s poor handling of the bout influenced the outcome of the fight as Agbeko lost a majority decision.
The clash at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, US, drew strong criticism from several boxing experts including revered referees who unanimously felt Mora should not be allowed to handle another high profile fight again.
Malinga’s promoter Branco Milenkovic, whose charge had already been promised a shot at the Mares-Agbeko winner in 90 days, joined the chorus of those lambasting Mora, describing his handling of the fight as having adverse consequences on his fighter.
“The referee did not only spoil a good fight between Mares and Agbeko and now his actions are affecting Malinga in a big way,” Milenkovic charged.
On reviewing the fight the IBF ordered the Agbeko-Mares rematch to take place by December 14 which has further pushed Malinga’s mandatory back by several months.
Malinga (20-3-1, 12 Kos) earned the mandatory status after beating Filipino Michael Domingo last October in South Africa.
His mandatory was initially expected to be enforced by September 11 but due to the injury suffered by Agbeko just days before his clash against Mares originally scheduled for April 23 at Nokia Center in Los Angeles, US, Agbeko’s promoter Don King Production (DKP) requested an extension for the optional defence in order to gain more time for the mandatory.
The IBF granted the extension on the basis that the winner between Mares and Agbeko should commit in writing to facing Malinga before November.
However the order did not foresee Mora’s inept handling of the fight which has invariably subjected Malinga to a further delay of getting his shot at the title.
Milenkovic said he was still seeking some advice on the issue before deciding on the next plan of action.
“We will explore avenues opened to us but the bottom line is no one would have foreseen that the referee would affect everyone concerned,” Milenkovic said.