Barrios wins controversial unanimous decision against Akhmedov, wins vacant title

LOS ANGELES -- Junior welterweight Mario Barrios won a controversial unanimous decision over Batyr Akhmedov to win a vacant secondary world title in a bout in which Barrios took serious damage.

Barrios scored two knockdowns, including one in the final seconds. Despite that, the crowd booed heavily after the decision was announced. The judges scored the fight 116-111, 115-111 and 114-112, had it 114-112 for Akhmedov.

"The judges see better than I can from the ring. I did everything I could. I thought I won the fight," Akhmedov said. "They decided that he won the fight. When I watch the fight, I'll be able to tell you what it looked like. My job is to do everything to win. The judges are supposed to judge correctly.

"I knew that I had to win by a wide margin. The plan was to gradually grow the activity, but after the first knockdown, I knew that I had to add more than I had planned. So I started being more aggressive. I did everything I could to try to stop him."

Barrios used his jab and his long reach to keep Akhmedov at bay in the first. However, Akhmedov stalked Barrios throughout the fight.

After a slow start, the action picked up in the fourth. Barrios connected with a short left hook that forced Akhmedov to touch the canvas with both of his gloves to score a knockdown.

In the fifth round, Akhmedov went right back to stalking Barrios, cutting off the ring and applying consistent pressure, connecting with a plethora of hard counter right hooks and straight left hands. Barrios (25-0, 16 KO's), 24, of San Antonio, started to breathe from his mouth as he was taking serious punishment.

In the 10th round, Akhmedov hurt a fading Barrios with a hard left hand. His face had shown the wear and tear of a tough fight, a cut around the left eye and swelling on the left cheek. Akhmedov continued to take the fight to him and connected with left hands at will, including one that sent Barrios reeling into the ropes in the 12th.

However, Barrios caught a second wind in the final seconds and landed a right hand on Akhmedov that floored him in the final seconds.

According to Compubox, Akhmedov (7-1, 6 KOs), 28, a southpaw, landed 238 of 924 punches (26 percent) while Barrios landed 135 of 772 (18 percent).

"I promised my city of San Antonio that I would bring this title back home and I did it," Barrios said. "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."

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