ATLANTA – Batyr Akhmedov doesn’t blame anyone but himself for his controversial loss to Mario Barrios.

Akhmedov is certain he did enough to beat Barrios in their 12-round fight for the then-vacant WBA world super lightweight title in September 2019. Uzbekistan’s Akhmedov knew, though, that if he didn’t dominate Barrios, he’d have a tough time beating Barrios on the scorecards.

Akhmedov got off to a slow start that night at Staples Center in Los Angeles and suffered a fourth-round knockdown. The 2016 Olympian survived that knockdown and took control of their bout during the fifth round by constantly applying pressure on a fatigued Barrios.

That still wasn’t enough to sway the judges on the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter undercard.

Judge Jeremy Hayes scored seven rounds for Barrios, who won 116-111 on his card, and one round even. Tim Cheatham also scored seven rounds for Barrios (115-111), who dropped Akhmedov again late in the 12th round.

Judge Zachary Young scored six rounds apiece for Akhmedov (8-1, 7 KOs) and Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs), but Barrios won 114-112 on his card due to the two knockdowns.

“I only punish myself for it,” Akhmedov told through a translator. “I think I’m the only one who’s guilty in that loss because I let them do that to me. You know, with that 12th-round knockdown, I made a mistake and I paid the price. I felt absolutely no threat from Mario. That’s why I kept on pressing. I was already concentrating on finishing him, instead of being composed and not getting hit.

“So, with that punch, I’m the only one who’s guilty [in the 12th round]. It was my mistake. I paid the price. I still feel like I won the fight, but I’m not complaining about the loss because I made those mistakes and I allowed them to steal that fight away from me. Obviously, we worked on the mistakes and hopefully in this fight I can show that I improved.”

The WBA ordered an immediate rematch between Barrios and Akhmedov, but it still hasn’t happened. Akhmedov needs to defeat Dominican contender Argenis Mendez (25-6-3, 12 KOs, 1 NC) in their 12-round WBA eliminator on the Gervonta Davis-Barrios undercard Saturday night to remain in position to fight the WBA belt Barrios owns.

Showtime will distribute Davis-Barrios and Akhmedov-Mendez as part of a four-fight pay-per-view show from State Farm Arena (9 p.m. EDT; $74.99).

“For both of us, it’s a very important fight,” Akhmedov said. “He’s at that point, 35 years old, where he needs to make a statement that he still belongs here. And I’m trying to take a step that I belong here, too. It’s a tough fight for both of us. I expect a very tough fight. I didn’t see much of him, but from what I’ve seen, he comes to fight. He comes to the fire, I come to the fire, and there’s gonna be an exciting fight.”

CompuBox credited Akhmedov with landing 103 more punches overall than Barrios during their entertaining encounter (238-of-924 to 135-of-772). According to CompuBox, Akhmedov connected with more power punches (181-of-652 to 113-of-413) and jabs (57-of-272 to 22-of-359).

The 30-year-old Akhmedov still wasn’t surprised Barrios beat him on the scorecards.

“Going into that fight, we knew that it would be a really tough task to win on the scorecards,” Akhmedov said. “No matter how the fight went, even if it were a convincing win for me, we knew it would still be close on the scorecards. But at the same time, credit to Mario. It was difficult. I blame myself for kicking up a little late, because I started in like the fourth round. Before that, I was trying to measure him and tried to get in more safe. But when I got hit the first time, that’s when I said, ‘OK, it doesn’t matter. I’m just gonna go in and do my work and out-smart him. I couldn’t out-smart him because of his size.

“But when I started pressing, things started going my way. And that’s why not finishing him was probably the number one mistake because I didn’t cut off the ring properly. I let him out of the corners. When I got him in the corner, I would work for a little bit and he would get out. Credit to him. My mistake, but he’s just a very good boxer. He knows how to get out and hat’s off for him being able to do that. A lot of people would’ve given up in that fight, and he never did. So fair play for him.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.