The WBA's multiple world title system is a farce in terms of knowing who is the best in the world. What is does allow however is for some fantastic fights to be mandated to fill the pointless vacancies the WBA creates for it's self. The bouts really should be eliminators, and are often the quality we expect of eliminators, but without the eventual winner getting their shot at the main belt, which gets lost in some world of it's own.
Today we saw a WBA "regular" title fight, fit for any belt, as Uzbek born Batyr Akhmedov (7-1, 6) and American Mario Barrios (25-0, 16) put on a legitimate FOTY contender. Unlike many FOTY contenders this wasn't a hard fight with a lot of competitive rounds, in fact it was a relatively easy fight to score, but one that was still incredibly competitive and close.
The fight started well for Barrios, who was moving well, landing his shots at range and making his natural size count. He looked like he was too big, too powerful and too quick for Akhmedov through the first 3 rounds, neutralising the pressure of the smaller man. In round 4 Barrios's speed and power saw him drop Akhmedov, albeit more of a flash knockdown than anything hurtful, in one of his best moments of the fight.
Whilst Barrios did score the knockdown in round 4 it actually seemed like he lit a fire under Akhmedov who bounced amazingly well. From being dropped part way through round 4 Akhmedov began to up his output and pressure, and began to really hammer Barrios with an incredibly intensity. The increase in work rate saw Akhmedov pretty much sweep rounds 5 to 11 with out too much coming back. Barrios managed to have success in rounds 8 and 9, but it was very limited success, and seemed more a case of steadying a sinking ship, rather than turning it around.
Barrios was looking tired, swollen around the left eye, and relying on his toughness, coming through a real test of his durability. Other fighters would have quit but Barrios, knowing he had a good start, gutted it out, looking to to stay up right, hoping to do something to turn the tide back in his favour. Amazingly in the final seconds of round 12 something did come for Akhmedov, who landed a right hand to score a flash knockdown, his second of the fight. It was completely the run of the round, and was huge.
The knockdown in the final moments seemed to do enough to leave the bout in some debate. Was it a 10-8 or a 10-9? Sadly, but unsurprisingly in the world of boxing, it didn't matter what the round was to be scored. The judges had the bout all in favour of Barrios 114-112, 115-111 and 116-111.
At a push we can see the 114-112 card, the others however, are terrible with the 116-111 card being completely indefensible.
Giving Barrios rounds 1-4, 8 and 9, where he showed something though didn't appear to do enough to win either, and round 12, literally giving Barrios everything you could still doesn't leave it possible to get him a 116 card. That judge should be forced to explain his card. But of course this is boxing, and that won't be happening.
For the fighters this was a bout that lived up to the expectations of being something very special. It was thrilling, the twist at the end with the second knockdown was a dramatic turn, the heart of Barrios to fight through a grotesquely swollen face and the will to win of Akhmedov were amazing. The fight back after a bad start from Akhmedov was great. It's just a shame, once again, the politics in boxing has sullied what was a great fight, from both men.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.