On this day 3 December 2011 (Exactly 8 years ago today) Abner Mares kept his punches up and beat Joseph Agbeko at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, retaining his IBF bantamweight belt by unanimous decision.
Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs) won 118-110 on all three judges’ scorecards in a rematch of his majority-decision victory over Agbeko (28-4) in August, 2012.
The boxers’ first bout in Las Vegas was among the most controversial in recent memory. Mares landed several blatantly low blows on Agbeko, but the referee inexplicably didn’t notice them or penalize Mares, who acknowledged his mistakes.
The rematch featured almost no questionable blows, and Mares landed more total punches and power shots despite fighting the final 10 rounds with a deep cut near his right eye from a punch. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for Mares
“I’m happy that my fans finally saw my true boxing skills,” said Mares, the crowd favorite who grew up in nearby Hawaiian Gardens. “I beat him the first time, and I beat him again. I knew I was winning the whole fight.”
Mares was usually a bit sharper and crisper than Agbeko, whose entourage still raised him on its shoulders after the final bell. Agbeko’s small but vocal Ghanaian cheering section disliked the verdict.
“A lot of media guys told me at the press conference that this is California, and that I will have to knock him out to win,” Agbeko said. “I told them no. If I win, I deserve to win. Right now, I don’t have anything to protest. I don’t feel like a loser. I think this decision is unfair. You shouldn’t have to knock out your opponent to win in California. I thought I fought better tonight than the last fight.”
Both fighters traded exciting shots from the first round, and Mares didn’t flinch when his cut opened in the second round.
“It bothered me a few times, because he was only going for my eye,” Mares said.
Agbeko was understandably sensitive to low blows, complaining to referee Lou Moret after borderline punches in the third and sixth rounds.
The fighters’ defensive skills and strong conditioning led to a few uneventful rounds, but Mares came alive in the final minute of the 11th. The champion landed several strong punches that staggered Agbeko, who made it to the bell while the crowd roared for the hometown favorite.
“Last time, I was a little stocky,” Mares said. “This time I didn’t have as much muscle, so I was faster.”
On this day 3 December 2018 (Exactly a year ago today) Luka Modric ended the long reign of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by winning the Ballon d’Or for the first time, while another first saw Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg win the inaugural women’s trophy.
Messi and Ronaldo had won every Ballon d’Or since 2008, and usually fought only each other for the greatest recognition among soccer’s elite. Women’s fight for recognition on the biggest stage took a big step with Hegerberg’s award.
Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then guided Croatia to the World Cup final in July. The midfielder was voted player of the tournament
“As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies,” Modric said. “The Ballon d’Or was more than just a dream for me and it is really an honor and a privilege to hold this trophy.”
Ronaldo was second in the polling followed by France forward Antoine Griezmann. France’s teen star, Kylian Mbappe, was fourth. Brazil star Neymar was third previous year but only 12th this time. Messi was fifth in the voting, having been runner-up to Ronaldo the previous two years and in the top three every year since 2007. Modric had never previously been in the top three.
“2018 is a dream year for me,” the 33-year-old Modric said. “Throughout my career I realized hard work, persistence and belief in yourself in difficult moments are the foundations of success.”
Modric’s father was shown on the big screen wiping away tears during the ceremony at the imperious Grand Palais in Paris.
Ronaldo missed out on a record sixth award, which would have moved him one ahead of Messi. The last player to win it before those two started dominating world soccer awards was Brazil midfielder Kaka with AC Milan in 2007
Hegerberg was a three-time Women’s Champions League winner with French side Lyon and scored a tournament-record 15 times last season.
“I want to say thanks to France Football. It’s a huge step for women’s football,” Hegerberg said. “I want to end this speech with a message to all young girls in the world. Believe in yourselves.”
On this day 3 December 1982 (Exactly 37 years ago today) After losing his world welterweight boxing titles to Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns won WBC Super Welterweight crown in a majority points decision over Wilfred Benitez at Superdome, New Orleans
On this day 3 December 1989 (Exactly 30 years ago today) Stefan Edberg of Sweden claimed his first and only ATP Masters Grand Prix tennis title with a 4–6, 7–6, 6–3, 6–1 win over defending champion Boris Becker at Madison Square Garden, NYC
On this day 3 December 2000 (Exactly 19 years ago today) French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil won the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for the only time; beat Andre Agassi 6–4, 6–4, 6–4 in the final in Lisbon, Portugal
By: George ‘Alan Green’ Mahamah
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