In American football, if a running back steps on the margin separating the sideline from the field of play, the ball is ruled dead and the runner is declared to be "out of bounds". The team then takes to the huddle and moves on to the next play.
In the event that it becomes a little unclear as to whether or not the player actually stepped out of bounds, the referee reviews the play with "instant replay". To keep the integrity of the game intact, instant replay has become an integral part of American football. Referees and officials are indeed human and often make mistakes, so most spectators and players are in agreement that the interjection of instant replay is necessary for the good of the game.
Unlike boxing, there are no "gray" areas in football when defining what is fair and what is foul in the field of play; it's either out of bounds or it isn't. There is no room for discussion or no argument to be made...it's clear and concise.
On August 13th, Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko participated in arguably the biggest fight of their respective professional careers. The two combatants went toe to toe at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, to not only decide the winner of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament, but to become the IBF and WBC Silver Bantamweight Champion.
It's very difficult for fighters under 126 pounds to get premium network recognition, so when they finally do arrive on the biggest stages of boxing, winning simply isn't good enough. For that and many other reasons, we saw the best versions of Mares and Agbeko in a real Bantamweight shoot-out on August 13th.
Unfortunately, the reprehensible proceedings of the third man in the ring Russell Mora overshadowed two great performances from two fierce and proud competitors.
Not only did Mora incorrectly score two knock downs, but the veteran referee chose to ignore over twenty low blows from Abner Mares without a single point deduction. The actions of Mora not only tarnished a terrific and fan friendly bout, but indirectly took the title away from a worthy champion as well.
Yes, the first meeting between Mares and Agbeko was very close indeed, but the negligence of the third man in the ring made it virtually impossible for the Ghanaian fighter to be considered for a decision victory.
In boxing, most fighters only get to put their skills on display in the squared circle every three or four months, so a blown call by the referee is crucial; and for a referee to blow a call in a Championship bout...it's simply inexcusable.
A win or loss in boxing is vital and often dictates the direction of a fighter's career. A championship victory could equate to a huge payday worth millions of dollars, while a loss could erase years of hard work and progress.
Fortunately for all parties involved, the IBF sanctioning body ordered an immediate rematch to take place on December 3rd, 2011, which is this Saturday night!!
But, is this highly anticipated rematch being set up for failure once again?
Due to the subjective nature of the scoring process, can three California State Athletic Commission endorsed judges score this fight without bias? Will the three kings at ringside reside over their proceedings without taking into consideration what previously transpired on August 13th?
Also, will the third man in the ring on Saturday night unknowingly find himself to be overly officious and scrutinizing the shots around the beltline?
The "gray" areas indeed are both a blessing and a curse for the sport of boxing.
Both the positive and negative variables surrounding this heralded event create the drama of the occasion and will drive the controversy during the aftermath.
It's the nature of our beloved sport.
Because the match up of this intriguing bout is so competitively meshed, 9 bouts out of 10 would more than likely end in controversy. Just like Pacquiao and Marquez preceding it, Mares and Agbeko will end with an inconclusive winner and loser.
My advice to all fight fans who are concerned with the drama shrouding the splendor of the event is to cease and desist from worrying about any controversy, and enjoy the world class action we have on display from the two deserving combatants in the ring.
Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko will leave everything in the squared circle on Saturday night. So regardless of the outcome, let's simply appreciate their efforts...and pray for a clean and decisive knock-out!!