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Fighter wins world title by repeatedly hitting his opponent below the belt

Boxing referee Russell Mora has come in for some criticism after Saturday’s IBF Bantamweight title bout.

Image: Dave Thompson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

BOXING REFEREE RUSSELL MORA might usually be the one calling the shots in the ring, but he had a lot of questions to answer in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

The veteran middleman took charge as Mexico’s Abner Mares scored a controversial majority decision over Joseph Agbeko to win a four-man box-off organised by US cable network Showtime and claim the IBF Bantamweight title.

After the fight, Mora’s officiating was slammed by the Ghanaian fighter’s camp and by the TV pundits after he failed to punish Mares for repeatedly throwing punches below the belt.

To make matters worse, when Agbeko hit the canvas following another low-blow in the 11th round, Mora ruled the punch to be fair and started a standing count.

Broadcaster Al Bernstein later described the referee’s performance as one of the worst he has ever seen, and his colleague Jim Gray took the opportunity to give Mora a rather pointed dressing-down during their post match interview.

“I don’t help the fighters. I enforce the rules,” the referee said when asked why he had not docked any points from Mares.

“Those punches were on the beltline, it’s a fair punch. I have to call it fair.

It would be unfair to give the other guy advantages because he says it’s low.

Agbeko’s promoter, the legendary Don King, said afterwards that he would be lodging an appeal with the IBF immediately.

Read ESPN’s report on the fight here >

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Niall Kelly

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