LAS VEGAS – Abner Mares won the IBF bantamweight championship Saturday night, beating Joseph Agbeko by a controversial majority decision.
Mares appeared to land a number of illegal low blows, but referee Russell Mora never deducted a point in the Showtime bantamweight tournament final. In the 11th round, Agbeko was sent to the canvas on an apparent low blow that Mora immediately ruled a knockdown.
Two judges scored the bout 115-111 for Mares, while the other had it even at 113.
Despite the controversy, it was an exciting fight in which the fighters exchanged blows throughout the 12 rounds.
Mares knocked Agbeko off balance and through the ropes with a left hook behind the ear in the first round. He was the aggressor through the first two rounds and seemed to be the stronger fighter, landing numerous power shots.
Agbeko began to work his jab effectively and staggered Mares in the fourth round with a solid straight right cross. Agbeko became the aggressor from that moment, pushing the pace and continually backing up Mares.
On the undercard, former WBA flyweight champion Eric Morel won his 10th consecutive fight when journeyman Daniel Quevedo was unable to answer the bell for the fifth round. Morel has not lost since 2005.
Heavyweight Eric Molina improved his record to 18-1 with a third-round technical knockout of Warren Browning. Molina has won 18 straight after dropping his pro debut.
In the preliminary fights, lightweight prospect Angelo Santana remained undefeated with a second-round TKO over previously unbeaten Ramzan Adaev. Carlos Molina fought Juan Manuel Montiel to a draw.