Staples Center, Los Angeles - Mario "El Azteca" Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) scored a close unanimous decision victory over Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6 KOs) to capture the WBA Super Lightweight title in an action packed fight. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
"I knew this was going to be a war," said Barrios. "He was getting dirty in there but the Mexican warrior in me was not going to let this opportunity pass me by. I dug deep and got the victory."
The action began with Akhmedov trying to get inside against his taller opponent, while Barrios looked to move and punish Akhmedov with pot shots from the outside. In round four, Barrios connected with a combo that stunned Akhmedov before Barrios followed up and scored a knockdown when Akhmedov's glove touched the canvas.
"The plan was to gradually grow the activity," said Akhmedov. "I knew that I had to win by a wide margin. After the first knockdown, I knew that I had to add activity more quickly than I had planned. So I started being more aggressive. I did everything I could to try to stop him."
After surviving the round, Akhmedov picked up the aggression and began effectively closing the space down between his opponent. He began to land numerous clean left and right hooks that put Barrios on the defensive.
As the championship rounds neared, Barrios began to experience severe swelling in his left eye amidst the onslaught from Akhmedov. In the final round, Barrios was able to turn the tide back in his favor late in the frame. He delivered a pinpoint right hand that stunned Akhmdov and again forced him to put a glove on the mat.
After the knockdown, the fight went to the judges scores, who saw the fight 116-11, 115-11 and 114-112, all in favor of Barrios. The relentless pursuit after the first knockdown from Barrios ended with him holding a 238 to 135 advantage in punches landed, but it was not enough to sway the judges on this night.
"I promised my city of San Antonio that I would bring this title back home and I did it," said Barrios.
"The judges see better than I can from the ring," said Akhmedov. "I did everything I could. I thought I won the fight. They decided that he won the fight. When I watch the fight I'll be able to tell you what it looked like. My job is to do everything to win. The judges are supposed to judge correctly.
"I tried to do everything I could. I was told that I wouldn't be able to handle his experience, but he was on the ropes most of the fight. I beat him up and I thought I won the fight.