Mario Barrios wins a close fight against Batyr Akhmedov with two wide scorecards!
Mario Barrios (24-0, 16KOs) looked to make his first bid at a world title against Batyr Akhmedov (7-0, 6KOs) on the under-card of Errol Spence vs Shawn Porter. The Russian born challenger had an extensive amateur career and represented Turkey in the 2016 Olympics.
With the vacant WBA regular super lightweight title on the line, this indeed would be a tough task for both fighters.
The fight started off fast with Barrios utilizing his advantages in height and reach to land his jab while keeping Akhmedov at bay. The San Antonio native, at 5’10 and a 71-inch reach, is a difficult match-up for any super lightweight.
In the fourth round, Barrios was able to make Akhmedov’s glove touch the canvas after landing a counter-hook. The Russian easily recovered and decided he’d press harder. He closed the distance some and threw some nice combinations. The problem was that he would open himself up to counters. His taller opponent was more than happy to oblige.
The pressure of the Russian added a new dimension to the fight as it allowed for more exchanges. This style improved the amateur phenom’s chances, as he’s accepted the reality it had to be more of a brawl than a boxing match. The closer range in the fight bothered Barrios as he struggled with hand positioning on the inside against the southpaw stance.
This would be where the fight took an extreme turn. Barrios could no longer find the range as the footwork of his opponent kept him confused which allowed the Russion to get on the inside constantly.
In round seven, a cut developed over Barrios’s eye. It’s not clear as to whether the cut was caused by a butt or a punch. His trainer Virgil Hunter instructed his charge to hold his ground and punch to the body.
By the twelfth round, Akhmedov seemed to be on his way to becoming the new WBA champion! Barrios had been confused and beaten up from the fifth round on. Then just like that, with twenty seconds left in the round, a counter straight-right lands and causes the former Olympian’s glove to graze the canvas!
A knockdown and one that Barrios desperately needed…right?
From the perspective of many watching the fight, the answer would be yes. However, two of the judges felt the San Antonian had did enough early to win the fight regardless of the final knockdown!
The final scorecards read 116-111, 115-111 and 114-112!
“I promised my city of San Antonio that I would bring this title back home and I did it.
“I knew this was going to be a war. He was getting dirty in there but the Mexican warrior in me was not going to let this opportunity pass me by. I dug deep and got the victory.”
Mario Barrios – WBA Regular Super Lightweight Champion
Akhmedov took his defeat in stride, however, given the boos from the fans, there is a sense that many will call robbery and expect an immediate rematch!
By: Corey Cunningham