By Shamus Young at ringside
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.
In the opening stage one semi-final, world-ranked Abner Mares (20-0-1, 13 KOs) won a split decision over two-time division titlist Vic Darchinyan (35-3-1, 27 KOs) in an all-action fight for the WBC Silver belt. Mares was cut on the hairline over the left eye by an unintentional headbutt in round one in a good action round. Darchinyan dropped Mares in round two with a straight left. Mares face was a bloody mess after round three. Mares was deducted a point for a low blow in round four. Mares started to get to Darchinyan in the sixth, but Darchinyan responded. Mares knocked down an off-balance Darchinyan in round seven. Mares came on strong late as Darchinyan faded, although the last round was close. Scores were 115-112, 115-111 Mares, 115-111 for Darchinyan.
In the second semi-final, former IBF bantamweight champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko (28-2, 22 KOs) regained the IBF belt from the the fighter who dethroned him, the previously unbeaten Yonnhy Perez (20-1-1, 14 KOs). The bout was a war with both fighters taking turns landing bombs throughout but Agbeko wasn’t to be denied as his right hand crashed home again and again. Scores were 116-112, 117-111, 115-113.
Former WBO interim bantamweight and WBA flyweight champion Eric Morel (43-2, 21 KOs) outpointed journeyman Juan Jose Beltran (23-19-3, 14 KOs) in a walkout bout rduced from ten to eight rounds. In what amounted to a glorified sparring session, Morel won 80-72, 80-72 and 79-73.
Hot super bantamweight prospect Chris Avalos (18-1, 15 KOs) punished former world title challenger Cecilio Santos (25-16-3, 15 KOs) forcing Santos to quit on his stool at the end of round three. 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. Time was 2:06. When being knocked down, Marquez suffered a separated shoulder.