King Kong Agbeko: ďIím going to open my mouth wide and say to the world that Iím going to knockout Abner Mares!Ē
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 138th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with former IBF bantamweight champion King Kong Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) who is coming off an extremely controversial majority decision loss at the hands of Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KOs) in Showtimeís Bantamweight Tournament Final. Agbeko spoke about the fight, the unfair treatment he received at the hands of referee Russell Mora, and the upcoming rematch. Here is what he had to say:
JENNA J: Letís talk a little bit about your fight you had this past weekend with Abner Mares. It certainly had its fair share of controversy. You lost your IBF bantamweight title. Youíve had a few days to reflect on it. How do you feel about the fight?
KING KONG AGBEKO: Yeah I didnít lose the fight to Abner Mares. I think I lost the fight to the referee because the referee took away my belt. The referee was for Mares, so I never lost any fight. Itís just that the referee took my belt from me. Iím very, very disappointed in the referee. His officiating was very, very bad and Iím very disappointed in Abner Mares for punching me below the belt.
JENNA: Do you think that all the low blows took you out of your game plan early because you started a little slow?
AGBEKO: Yeah. I suffered a low blow in the second round but the low blows made me slower. The blows were very, very heavy and every time he hit me it weakened me. I had to be very, very strong because my fans were watching me and Iím live on Showtime with everybody watching me. So I had to be like a man and stand tough like I did to put up a good fight, but I was really getting very seriously hurt and those low blows slowed me down.
JENNA: Now going into the later rounds people were really starting to question why Russell Mora wasnít taking away a point from Abner Mares. What were you thinking at that point? He had already landed about fifteen or sixteen low blows. What were you thinking going into the middle rounds?
AGBEKO: First of all the fans know that the referee counted me and it wasnít a knockdown. I slipped from throwing my own punch and he counted me and it went to Maresí advantage because he got two points and then he was giving me a lot of low blows. If the referee was fair then Abner Mares could have lost some points or maybe even have been disqualified in the fight. The referee wasnít warning him and he wasnít doing anything, but I knew that if he called the punch low in the eleventh round I could have won the fight.
JENNA: In the tenth round you got hit with a shot that caused you to bend down. Russell Mora looked like he was going to take a point but he decided not to. He just firmly warned Mares, but in the eleventh as you mentioned it was a clear low blow and he started counting. What were you thinking at that moment when he started calling that a knockdown?
AGBEKO: You know before the eleventh round, I think the tenth or the seventh round or something, I got hit with a very, very serious punch on the low side and it was very tough for me. The referee didnít do anything about it, but I came back to fight again. But in the eleventh round it truly affected me and when it hit me I couldnít do anything! I couldnít do anything! Before I realized the referee was counting me! He was counting me! Then I had to think about my fans, I had to think about the TV, I had to think about the publicity and everything, so I had to be strong and stand up but I was really, really suffering.
JENNA: Well after the fight you were very upset and you had so many points taken away you lost on the card, and you actually wanted to go over to the referee Mora. What was going on at the end of the fight after the cards were announced?
AGBEKO: Yeah you know it was out of anger because the referee didnít know his job. Heís the third man in the ring so heís supposed to be fair and treat everything good, but he just destroyed the fight! So after the fight I was just going to ask why he did that to me and why he had to treat me like that. It was a bad decision so I was a little upset. It was very, very upset.
JENNA: Okay now letís go to what you were saying there. Why do you think Russell Mora called the fight the way that he did. I mean this was a Golden Boy fight card and also Russell Mora is of Mexican descent. What do you think his reason was for not calling all of these low blows against Mora?
AGBEKO: I donít know, but Mora is a Mexican so maybe heís fighting for his Mexican flag and thatís why he was helping him. I donít know the connection between him and Golden Boy Promotion. I donít know, but he was just doing everything possible to throw the fight for me.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Aside from all the low blows, one thing that I noticed earlier in the fight is you didnít look as sharp as weíre used to seeing and you werenít using your jab and your right hand as much as you normally do, and you seemed to be throwing wide with your left hook. What was the reason for your slow start in the early rounds in getting your offense together?
AGBEKO: In the first and the second round I just took it easy just to see what Mares was bringing in. I wanted to see the style that I was going to fight and I wanted to take it easy, and after the second round I could continue. But I was affected with the low blows and they made me slower, so when I wanted to pick up from there I was taking a lot of blows so it slowed me down to get my rhythm.
CIANI: In the fourth round of the fight you landed a big right hand which really seemed to hurt Mares, but you didnít seem to follow up on that. Why is that?
AGBEKO: Yeah I didnít follow up on him because I was trying to do my job and just taking my time to take his mind off the points and then I can come back and get them back, but I think too much longer than I should have.
CIANI: Was there anything about Abner Mares that surprised you in the fight? When he was fighting legally that is, was there anything about his style that surprised you?
AGBEKO Nothing really surprised me. You know the only thing that surprised me most was he was punching too much below the belt. It was too much, which I think as a world class fighter when you do something three, four, five, six times, you should be able to stop, but he wasnít able to stop. He was just doing it every time.
CIANI: Now is there anything strategically that you would do different in the rematch that might help you get started better earlier in the fight?
AGBEKO: Yeah, definitely! There are a lot of things that Iím going to do differently in the rematch. I want to make everybody know that Abner Mares wasnít anybody. If Iím given the rematch today, believe me Iím going to open my mouth wide and say to the world that Iím going to knockout Abner Mares and Iím going to knock him out!
CIANI: King Kong, one thing that occurred to the people I was watching the fight with is we didnít understand was, and I think this is a testament to you on one hand, that you never did complain. You kept fighting and you kept going about your business, but after he landed so many low blows, why did you never complain earlier in the fight about that?
AGBEKO: After every round my trainer complained to the referee, and myself, I complained to him after every round. I was hit with the headbutt and I was going to complain to the referee, and then he came after me and then the referee counted me. So because of that when he did something I couldnít stop to complain. Sometimes he gave me a low blow and I would go back and put my hand up so the referee would know what he was doing, but the referee always ignored me. I knew I was the only person there and I knew the referee was with Mares and the referee sided with him. So if I tried to complain and I donít take my time the referee could stop me for something because I could see he was really, really behind Mares. So I was the only person in the ring.
JENNA: You know with Abner Mares low blows are nothing new to him. There were a lot of complaints from Vic Darchinyan about getting low blows. Do you think thatís something in Abnerís style or do you think he does that intentionally?
MARES: I think Abner did. I think heís professional, and he should definitely be able to when he brings something and you know itís wrong and you can get disqualified by that, you should be able to try and stop it, but he wasnít stopping. He kept doing it, and kept doing it, and the referee made him feel very comfortable doing it because he wasnít getting any warning from the referee, any deduction, nothing! So he felt comfortable and he was doing it, so I think it was intentional. It was there plan for them to wear me down. So it was very, very intentional for them to steal my belt from me. It was stolen.
JENNA: So you think Abner Mares was intentionally going low because the referee wasnít taking any points away, and he figured he could keep going down there to weaken you?
AGBEKO: Yeah I think so, because he is a professional boxer and he knows it is wrong, so at least he should try not to do it anytime he goes there. In the eleventh round you could see he side stepped and then he threw straight below the belt. He knows. Heís been doing it every time and heís been training all the time and he has to know the right targets where the punch, and I donít think heís training for targets below the belt so why should he do that in the ring?
JENNA: Alright King Kong, even though the IBF has approved a rematch for this fight, there are no guarantees Abner Mares is going to take it. What will you do if he chooses not to take a rematch with you?
AGBEKO: If I donít get a rematch with Abner Mares I would say thatís unfair because I believe Golden Boy will come out clean to protect the IBFís reputation because this is bad for their reputation. This is bad for them and they have to come out clean. Boxing is something that brings every country together. Itís not a rich manís game. Everybody has to be treated fairly whether youíre from Africa, youíre from America, youíre from anywhere, you have to get the fair treatment. I believe the Nevada commission is going to treat me fair by dealing with the referee as well, and the Golden Boy Promotion has to treat me fair by proving that they are good organization and they have the better boxer. So they donít have to be scared of anything. They have to fight me, and if they donít fight me then Abner Mares should not be called a champion because you have to beat the champion convincingly to become the champion, not for the referee to steal it and give you a belt for free and to be called a champion. Thatís not the way you should do it. They want to make Abner Mares a boxer that comes from Golden Boy and becomes champion, but you donít have to steal from me if you really want to make him a champion. Let him fight and win clean then you can say you prepared him for the class.
JENNA: You mentioned a lot about Russell Mora the referee for this fight. What do you think should happen to him? Do you think he should be allowed to referee after his performance this past weekend?
AGBEKO: I think Russell Mora should be kicked out of the business, because I believe heís been a ref for a long time right now and Iím surprised if he canít see things like this in the ring, and he shifts and he canít see or do anything about, then why should he allowed to be in the ring with other boxers? Boxing is a dangerous sport! So when youíre in the ring your life is at stake. Your life is at risk. So why should that referee be in the ring to put peopleís lives in danger? When youíre getting a lot of low blows it can result in something bad medically, so why should that referee be in the ring where he can destroy somebodyís life? Itís very, very bad, so I donít think Russell Mora should be allowed to be in the ring because heís going to destroy peopleís lives!
JENNA: I have one final question. The fans have really gotten your back since this fight. Theyíve all stood behind you. Is there anything you want to say to your supporters?
AGBEKO: Yeah, yeah, I really want to thank them so much. I really want to thank them. They have been very loyal to me and I have been very loyal to them. Without the fans I would have quit. I would have quit during the fight because those low blows were hurtful to me and I wasnít able to do anything but I thought about my fans. I think so much about them, and I knew that I had to fight for them. I had to give them a good show, I had to give the TV a good show, and my fans watching me on TV and watching me live, I had to give them a good show. So I had to stand like a man and fight. So I really, really thank them for their support and I want to assure them that when the rematch comes up I am not going to disappoint them.
For those interested in listening to the King Kong Agbeko interview in its entirety, it begins right at the start of the program.
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Article posted on 19.08.2011
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