In a highly anticipated rematch of one of the year's most talked about and exciting fights, unbeaten rising star Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13 KO) will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver Bantamweight Championship titles against the boxer he dethroned, former two-time IBF 118-pound champion Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko (28-3, 22 KO), in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING onSaturday, Dec. 3, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) at Honda Center in Anaheim,Calif.
In the co-featured world championship bout, Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno will defend his World Boxing Association (WBA) Bantamweight Super Championship against Two-Division World Champion Vic "The Raging Bull'' Darchinyan.
Mares (22-0-1, 13 KO's) scored a hotly disputed 12-round majority decision over Agbeko (28-3, 22 KO's), to win the SHOWTIME Bantamweight Tournament and IBF title last Aug. 13 in Las Vegas.
The summer slugfest featured many two-way exchanges with numerous swings in momentum. Mares and Agbeko combined to throw 1,394 punches in the first fight. The fast-starting Mares connected on 318 of 732, while Agbeko landed on 231 of 662 and notably came on strong in the later rounds. Each fighter landed his share of big blows.
Their brave performances, however, were overshadowed by referee Russell Mora, who warned Mares several times for low blows throughout the fight yet never deducted a point. In the 11th round, the referee called a knockdown when Agbeko took a knee following a punch that appeared below the beltline.
When the final bell rang and the scores were totaled, Mares scored a majority decision victory by the scores of 115-111 twice and 113-113, however the controversy surrounding the fight was such that the IBF ordered an immediate rematch less than 24 hours after Team Agbeko had filed an official protest in the days following the fight.
Golden Boy Promotions' first homegrown world titlist, Mares showed no hesitation in giving Agbeko the rematch as he said he would immediately following their first fight. Mares said he relishes the opportunity to show that he is deserving of the championship he won this summer.
"I'm looking forward to December 3rd to clear the record and show that I deserve to be a world champion," said Mares. "I beat him the first time and I'll beat him again, but this time it will be easier. I'm going to make a statement in this fight."
Despite the Aug. 13 outcome, Agbeko's confidence has not wavered.
"As I said after our first fight, Abner Mares did not win my world title, the referee gave it to him," said Agbeko. "This is not to say Mares cannot win. His undefeated record shows he has boxing abilities. His challenge now is to prove he can beat me in a fair fight. The world and a new referee will be watching this young man to see if he can keep his gloves above the beltline. In a fair fight, I know I will prevail."
Mares, who turns 26 on Nov. 28, will be fighting for the fourth consecutive time on SHOWTIME; Agbeko, 32, will be appearing on the network for a fifth time in a row.
Moreno vs Darchinyan...
Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KO's), 26, of Panama City, Panama, will fight for the first time since he signed with Golden Boy Promotions last August. He will be making his United States and SHOWTIME debuts against Darchinyan (37-3-1, 27 KOs), 35, a Sydney, Australia-based Armenian who has appeared 13 times on the network.
Unbeaten since losing in his eighth professional fight in 2002, the 5-foot-8 Moreno captured the WBA title in May 2008 and was upgraded by that organization to Super Champion in November 2010. He's made a total of eight title defenses, including an eighth-round TKO over former World Champion Lorenzo Parra in his lone start this year on June 17 in Panama. All but six of Moreno's 33 professional fights took place in his homeland.
The aggressive-minded, crowd-pleasing Darchinyan, a former world champion at 112 and 115 pounds, is the current International Boxing Organization (IBO) 118-pound titleholder.
Darchinyan regained the IBO belt last April 23 with an impressive fifth-round technical decision over Yonnhy Perez on SHOWTIME. On Sept. 12, Darchinyan retained the strap by pitching a near-shutout in a lopsided 12-round decision over Evans Mbamba in Armenia.
The doubleheader is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Don King Productions and Gary Shaw Productions and is sponsored by Tecate, DeWalt Tools and AT&T. A full undercard will be announced shortly.
Steve Albert (blow-by-blow), Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver (analysts) will call the action with Jim Gray reporting from ringside. The executive producer is David Dinkins Jr. with Ray Smaltz producing and Bob Dunphy directing.