By Keith Idec
Abner Mares was more surprised than disappointed the night Nonito Donaire lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Donaire’s defeat cost Mares money because it lessened the magnitude of a potential bout between them, but Mares remains open to facing Donaire or Rigondeaux after fighting Mexico’s Daniel Ponce De Leon for the WBC featherweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas (Showtime Pay-Per-View; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT; $69.99).
“Everyone knew I wanted to fight Nonito, but Rigondeaux exposed him,” Mares said on a conference call Monday to promote his fight on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Gurerrero undercard. “I wanted to do that, but he beat me to it. I would love to fight any of them, either Rigondeuax or Nonito.
“I fought Rigondeaux already in the amateurs, in the Pan-American Games. He beat me, yeah. It was a controversial fight, but I would love to fight him again. But I have a fight less than a week from now and I plan on winning that fight first and let’s see what happens.”
Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) seems committed to staying at 122 pounds, but even if the two-time Olympic gold medalist moved up to featherweight to meet Mares issues between Golden Boy Promotions (Mares) and Top Rank Inc. (Rigondeaux’s co-promoter) would need to be resolved. The same still goes for a Mares-Donaire showdown because Top Rank promotes “The Filipino Flash.”
Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) is fully focused on challenging the heavy-handed De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs), who’ll make the first defense of his featherweight title, but the Montebello, Calif., resident was still surprised two weeks later that Rigondeaux defeated Donaire by unanimous decision April 13 at Radio City Music Hall. Donaire, who was a slight favorite, hadn’t lost in 12 years before Rigondeaux out-pointed him in their 122-pound championship unification fight.
“I was not shocked, but I was one of the many people that thought Nonito was going to take it,” Mares said. “I’m obviously going to back that up because I always said Nonito was going to win and he didn’t. Rigondeaux gave him a hell of a fight, just a boxing clinic, just out-boxed him and did whatever he did with him that fight.”
The 27-year-old Mares assumed Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) would find a way to penetrate Rigondeaux’s defense and overpower the 32-year-old Cuban southpaw.
“I was a little bit shocked due to the fact that Nonito seemed like he didn’t train,” Mares said. “He seemed like he was out of gas and he didn’t know what to do. But again, I blame that on his last four, five fights that he had, you know, [against] no fighter to the level of Rigondeaux’s style and performance that night. I think that was a big, major thing [in relation to] why he didn’t look that impressive.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.