By Shamus Young at ringside
Photos by Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
SHOWTIME’s eagerly anticipated two-stage, single-elimination “Winner Take All” bantamweight tournament kicked off Saturday night at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington. When all the dust had settled, Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko had regained the IBF world championship and moved on to the final to face Abner Mares who gallantly fought all twelve rounds covered in blood from a nasty gash.
In the opening semi-final bout , Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs) won a split decision over Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs) in an all-action fight for the WBC Silver belt. Mares overcame early adversity to outwork Darchinyan down the stretch. In round one, Mares was cut on the hairline over his left eye. In round two, Mares suffered a flash knockdown courtesy of a straight left from Darchinyan. In the fourth round, referee Bobby Howard docked Mares a point for low blows. Mares was able to dig out of the scorecard deficit with steady punching. Darchinyan boxed well and tried to walk Mares into punches. In round seven, Mares scored a knockdown by tapping an off-balance Darchinyan. In the final rounds, the busy aggression of Mares overcame Darchinyan’s counterpunching style in the eyes of the judges, two of whom gave the final three rounds to Mares. Scores were 113-112, 115-111 for Mares and 115-111 for Darchinyan. Fightnews had it 113-112 for Darchinyan.
In the second semi-final bout, former IBF bantamweight champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) regained the IBF belt from the fighter who dethroned him, the previously unbeaten Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs). After a feeling out first round, Agbeko took the initiative, beating Perez to the punch with combinations that usually ended in a sharp left hook. In the fifth and sixth rounds, Perez finally let his punches fly, and he dominated Agbeko with reach and leverage. In the seventh, Perez went back to sporadically picking shots and letting Agbeko set the pace. Agbeko was happy to control the tempo to the end of the fight, which he won unanimously, by scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 115-113. Fightnews had it 118-110.
Former WBO interim bantamweight and WBA flyweight champion Eric Morel (43-2, 21 KOs) easily outpointed journeyman Juan Jose Beltran (23-19-3, 14 KOs) in a walkout bout reduced from ten to eight rounds. Beltran was game and more than earned his money, but boos rained down on the ring due to the one-sided nature of the match. Morel won 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73. Fightnews had it 80-72.
Hot super bantamweight prospect Chris Avalos (18-1, 15 KOs) punished former world title challenger Cecilio Santos (25-16-3, 15 KOs) with clean, crisp combinations. The Santos corner stopped the bout after round three, citing a separated shoulder. Official time was :01 of round four.
Unbeaten super flyweight Cesar Seda (20-0, 15 KOs) annihilated Ernie Marquez (9-8-1, 3 KOs) in round one to claim the NABO 115lb belt. Marquez was dropped hard in round one, and could not continue. The time of the stoppage was 2:08.