Abner Mares is eager to prove his critics wrong after his controversial… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)
Abner Mares will be fighting to win respect as well as defend his International Boxing Federation belt when he meets Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko in a bantamweight title bout Saturday at Honda Center.
The two met in Las Vegas on Aug. 13 in a fight that ended in controversy with the unbeaten Mares taking Agbeko's crown in a bout so poorly officiated that the IBF ordered an immediate rematch.
In that fight, Mares (22-0-1, 13 knockouts) was warned repeatedly about hitting Agbeko below the belt. But referee Russell Mora never took a point from Mora, who won a questionable majority decision.
FOR THE RECORD: Mares-Agbeko fight:
An article in the Dec. 3 Sports section on the Abner Mares-Joseph Agbeko fight misidentified Mares' last name as Mora in some places.
"I wanted to fight again," Mora, a Mexican-born boxer fighting out of Lakewood, said of the rematch. "Clear my name, clear my record and just pretty much close my chapter with this guy and move on."
But that wasn't the only time Mora won in less-than-clear fashion. A year ago he won a split decision over Armenian brawler Vic Darchinyan in another fight marred by low blows. Lou Moret, one of boxing's top referees, will be the third man in the ring Saturday.
Mares conceded he hit Agbeko (28-3, 22 KOs) with questionable punches in the fight in August but insisted they were unintentional. So in preparing for the rematch, Mares, an inch shorter than the 5-foot-6 Agbeko, said he has worked on elevating his punches
"I have to throw higher punches because of the way he fights," Mares said. "He's not a regular fighter. I can't aim like a regular fighter. It's different with this guy."
The main-event doubleheader — to be televised on Showtime — is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with World Boxing Assn. bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KOs) taking on Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KOs), a two-time world champion, in a 12-round bout.
A six-fight undercard scheduled to include former World Boxing Assn. flyweight champion Eric Morel (45-2, 23 KOs) and three unbeaten boxers from Southern California — junior welterweight Frankie Gomez (11-0, eight KOs) of East Los Angeles; junior welterweight Carlos Molina (14-0-1, seven KOs) of Norwalk; and featherweight Richard Contreras (8-0, seven KOs) of Riverside — is to begin at 2 p.m.