Abner Mares' Three Best Performances
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: June 07, 2018
It was not long ago when three-division world champion Abner Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) was considered one of the finest active pugilists in the boxing game. One night in August 2013 changed that perception. More specifically, one punch altered the direction of Mares’ career. At the famed Stub Hub Center in Carson, California Mares faced off with longtime veteran Jhonny Gonzalez (66-10, 54 KOs) and was considered a heavy favorite heading into the bout.
It was not inconceivable for Gonzalez to win the bout as the veteran had come up with significant victories in circumstances that were less than favorable to him on multiple occasions such as his fourth-round stoppage of Hozumi Hasegawa in Japan in 2011. However, Gonzalez had shown to be consistently inconsistent in losses to Gerry Penalosa and Israel Vasquez.
With Mares’ coming off of winning Showtime’s Bantamweight (118) tournament and then winning titles in the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions including a stoppage victory over one of Gonzalez’s conquerors Daniel Ponce De Leon, he was the favorite for a reason. As the cliché goes, fights are not fought on paper they are fought in the ring. One left hook landed by Gonzalez on the inside sent Mares to the canvas, and he never recovered as he was immediately put down again with a combination. The fight was over in the first round.
In the aftermath of his loss to Gonzalez, Mares has been subpar. Mares has seemed less like the wild high volume pressure fighter of old and more like a fighter who is gun-shy and unwilling to pull the trigger. In 2015, Mares was given another title shot opportunity against California rival Leo Santa Cruz at the Staples Center. The two engaged in an exciting fight with Santa Cruz pulling ahead winning a clear unanimous decision. In the loss Mares showed he was capable of still producing action fights but looked to be up against the bigger man in a higher weight class.
After the first bout with Santa Cruz, Mares was able to win another world title by defeating Jesus Cuellar for the WBA featherweight championship. The rematch between Santa Cruz and Mares is set to take place this weekend at the same venue as the first, the Staples Center. While the first bout was entertaining, a rematch was not a fight that fans were clamoring for. Regardless, fans should be treated to an entertaining match in front of a large contingency of boxing fans. Let’s take a look back at some of Mares best performances before his rematch with Santa Cruz this weekend.
YONNHY PEREZ (20-2-1, 11 KOs)
May 22, 2010
In Mares’ first title shot of his career he faced off against then IBF bantamweight world champion Yonnhy Perez of Columbia. The bout was on the undercard of the fourth match between Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The bout had no lulls in action with each round providing excitement and exchanges between both men. It could be argued that this fight was the most exciting in Mares’ career against another fighter known for his volume of punching. The 12th round, in particular, stands out as the round of the night much like Oscar De La Hoya’s first bout with Shane Mosley at the Staples Center in 2000. After 12 rounds, many thought Mares did enough to earn the victory. However, two of three judges scored the bout a draw with one in favor of Mares with a score of 115-113.
It may seem out of place to put a fight that a fighter received a draw as one of their best performances, but there is precedence as fighters like James Toney in his first fight with Mike McCallum fought a brilliant fight that was ultimately scored a draw. More recently, Badou Jack fought James Degale to a draw in January 2017 that was one of the best fights of the year. While Mares’ did not get the victory against Perez, the fight showcased him as a real-world title contender and not just a popular prospect.
Joseph Agbeko (34-5, 25 KOs)
December 03, 2011
In August 2011, Mares was declared the winner of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament by defeating Ghana’s Joseph Agbeko by controversial decision. In the first bout, Mares was mostly allowed to get away with multiple low blows on Agbeko that ruined the fight and Mares’ victory. Referee Russell Mora was to blame more so than Mares as he seemed blind to some of Mares’ low blows. Mora’s inability to maintain any sense of order in the ring cost Agbeko a fair fight and Mares a victory clear of any doubt.
The rematch was immediately set just a few months later in December 2011. The rematch was overshadowed by the grudge match between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. However, it can be stated that Mares had the best performance of the night. In the rematch against Agbeko, Mares showed his versatility by choosing to box Agbeko by utilizing an ambush style of attack. Mares would use lateral movement to keep Agbeko out of range and attack with combinations when the Ghana fighter least expected. Mares was able to erase any doubts left by their first encounter winning a clear unanimous decision victory with scores of 118-110 from all three judges.
Anselmo Moreno (36-6-1, 12 KOs)
November 10, 2012
After winning Showtime’s bantamweight tournament, Mares moved up to the super bantamweight division and won the vacant WBC 122-pound championship by defeating Puerto Rico’s Eric Morel. This victory set up a bout with Panama’s Anselmo Moreno whom many considered to be the best bantamweight in the world despite not being in the bantamweight tournament. The two met at the Staples Center and produced one of the best fights of 2012. Mares took on the role of the brawler against Moreno as he continually put the pressure on the Panamanian from the sound of the first bell. In the fifth round, Mares landed a right hand that put Moreno down for the first time in his career.
After twelve rounds of action, Mares won a unanimous decision and arguably the most significant victory of his career. The manner in which Mares fought was not pretty, but it was useful in making one of the best technical boxers at that time uncomfortable for all twelve rounds.
The Staples Center has proven to be a mixed bag of results for Mares, going 2-1-1 at the arena. This weekend Mares has another opportunity to show he is still one of the best fighters in the world or at the very least one of the best featherweights. With experienced head trainer Robert Garcia in his corner, Mares will have the chance to make the necessary adjustments to come out with the victory. Win or lose the fight should provide its share of fireworks and possibly set up a rubber match with Santa Cruz.
(Featured Photo: Danny Moloshok/AP)