by David P. Greisman
Russell Mora says he is still bothered by the job he did 21 months ago as the referee for the first fight between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko — and that he wants to apologize both boxers.
“That was the worst thing that I have ever done,” Mora told Lem Satterfield of RingTV.com. “There’s no reverse, and there’s no instant replay, there’s no taking it back.”
Here’s how I described the bout back in August 2011:
“Mares topped Agbeko via majority decision in a fight that was close and competitive but which ended with the controversy overshadowing the very good action.
“Mares’ punches, particularly his left hook to the body, kept veering low. Some were on the beltline; some were lower. Some were precipitated by Agbeko’s left hand pulling Mares’ head down; some were fouls of Mares’ own doing. Some led to cautions from referee Russell Mora; some didn’t.
“The problem was that Mora never went beyond cautioning Mares, never taking a point away from him, even when the fouls had reached a quantity and frequency that such a measure should’ve proven necessary. And on the most blatant low blow of them all, a left hand directly onto Agbeko’s groin in the 11th round that sent Agbeko to the canvas, Mora – who was perfectly positioned – ruled it a knockdown.”
Mora told Satterfield that he felt as if he “screwed up their fight,” and that Mares and Agbeko “were both marred after the fight for my mistake.”
“I do, someday, want to see Joseph Agbeko, because I would like to give him an embrace and let him know that it could have been different,” Mora told Satterfield. “I'd like the opportunity to apologize — to both of them — for the fact that any of that happened, because they were both scarred by that."
Mares and Agbeko had a rematch less than four months later; Mares won that bout by unanimous decision, with all three scorecards reading 118-110 in his favor.
Mares, who won two world titles at bantamweight with the first victory over Agbeko, has since gone on to capture belts in the 122- and 126-pound divisions, with his most recent performance coming May 4 with a technical knockout of Daniel Ponce De Leon during the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view.
Agbeko has fought just once since the second Mares defeat. He didn’t fight at all in 2012, and returned this past March in his native Ghana with a decision win over Luis Melendez.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]