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Mares vs. Agbeko II & Darchinyan vs. Moreno on Saturday: Can Abner fight without throwing below the belt?

Abner Mares Anselmo Moreno Joseph Agbeko Vic DarchinyanBy Jason Kim: This Saturday night IBF bantamweight champion Abner Mares (22-0, 13 KO’s) will be fighting a rematch against Joseph Agbeko (28-3, 22 KO’s) in a rematch of their controversial fight last August, which ended with Mares winning by a 12 round decision despite nailing Agbeko with low blows all through the fight without being penalized.

In addition to the Mares-Agbeko fight, WBA Super World bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KO’s) will be defending his title against IBO bantamweight champion Vic Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KO’s) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The fights will be televised by Showtime.

The previous Mares-Agbeko fight was tarnished by Mares’ inability to keep his punches above the beltline despite repeated warning from the referee.

Agbeko was knocked down twice in the fight, although the knockdown in the 11th appeared to come from another low blow. It’s unclear what the issue was with referee Russell Mora not taking points off from Mares, because he gave him plenty of warnings, but they failed to stop Mares from continuing to throw low. It got to be kind of a joke after a while because Mares just simply couldn’t keep his punches from straying low for some reason.

Body punching is a huge part of Mares’ game and without it; he’s a very average fighter. So it’s not surprising that Mares continued to throw punches to the body despite being warned over and over again by Mora. After the fight, Mora took a lot of heat in the media for his failure to address this problem in the fight, and it really kind of put a taint on Mares’.

Could Mares have won if he had lost points? It’s possible. Maybe if Mares had lost a point, he would have self-corrected and stopped throwing low. However, that didn’t seem to have any effect on Mares throwing low in his fight against Darchinyan last year in December. In that fight, Mares lost a point for throwing low in the 4th.

However, he continued to throw low even after that, and wasn’t docked any more points for some reason.

The good thing that came out of the last fight is the attention made on Mare’s habit of throwing low. It’s doubtful that the referee working the Mares-Agbeko rematch this Saturday will dare to let Mares get away with throwing low blows for fear of the criticism that will be leveled upon him after the fight. This is why I hope Mares has learned how to keep his punches up during training camp. I kind of doubt it, but it’ll be interesting to see him try.

The Darchinyan-Moreno fight promises to be an interesting one. Darchinyan , 35, has lost a step and isn’t the puncher at bantamweight that he was at flyweight. He was beaten by both Agbeko and Mares in the past, but came back last April to stop Yonnhy Perez in the 5th round in an impressive performance. In his last fight, he defeated Evans Mbamba by a 12 round decision.

Darchinyan, 5’5”, will be giving up three inches in height against the taller Moreno, and will have to try and find a way through Moreno’s long reach. Moreno, from Panama, hasn’t faced a puncher quite as good as Darchinyan. Moreno beat the hard hitting Nehomar Cereno twice by 12 round split decision, but Darchinyan is a lot more dangerous than Cermeno. On paper, Darchinyan should win this fight by decision. However, Darchinyan has gassed out a little late in his losses to Agbeko and Mares, so it’s possible he could fade again.

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