By Chris Robinson
Less than a week removed from Juan Manuel Marquez’s stirring knockout over Manny Pacquiao and the talk about one of the finer fights in recent memory has yet to die.
Inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Dec. 8, Marquez would overcome a bloodied face and a fifth round knockdown before he clipped Pacquiao with a short right hand that ended his night and gave him his first official victory over the Filipino icon in four tries.
This weekend, the action shifts to Southern California, as former two-time junior welterweight champion Amir Khan looks to bounce back from his July defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia by locking horns with unbeaten lightweight prospect Carlos Molina inside of the Los Angeles Sport Arena.
At an open media workout ahead of the Khan-Molina bill on Tuesday, I found myself inside of WBC featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon’s new gym in Montebello, Calif.
With Pacquiao-Marquez IV still fresh in my mind, I was curious for some feedback on the contest and quickly spotted WBC junior featherweight titlist Abner Mares shortly after I entered the gym.
Mares has personally seen his stock skyrocket after bruising up bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno last month and gave me his take on Marquez’s triumph.
“It was spectacular,” Mares would tell me. “I was one of the few who thought that Marquez definitely still had a chance, but, being honest, I never saw it coming that way. The way he just knocked him out was amazing.”
Asked for him thoughts on what the future holds for Pacquiao, Mares feels that the eight-division champion should listen to his wife Jinkee and his mother Dionisia and walk away from the sport.
“I think the people that are really close to him are telling him the right things; the mom and the wife,” Mares stated. “Retire. He has nothing else to prove. He’s done a lot. He’s a champion. People can’t just look at him by his last fight. Yeah, he got knocked out, but look at his other fights.
“He’s knocked out the best, he’s fought nothing but the best, and he’s going to be a Hall-of-Famer,” Mares would add of Pacquiao.
Mares was also questioned for his thoughts on superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is slated for appearances in May and September of 2013, with WBC interim champion Robert Guerrero WBC junior middleweight boss Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez likely possibilities.
Asked which of the two would give Floyd a better tussle, Mares brought up Guerrero and pointed towards his punishing victory over Andre Berto last month.
“I think Guerrero might give him a tougher fight,” Mares stated. “He proved it against Andre Berto, a style that’s similar to Floyd Mayweather. It would be good, those two fights.”
As for anything special he sees in Alvarez, Mares couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.
“Just youth more than anything,” Mares noted. “Definitely not experience. Because he has a lot of fights but he has not fought someone near Mayweather’s level. I don’t think he could be a problem for Mayweather.”
And while Mares may be in Los Angeles for the fights this weekend, he will surely too have his mind locked on fellow junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire’s bout on Saturday against crowd-pleasing Jorge Arce in Houston, Texas.
Mares isn’t shy when expressing his desire to face Donaire and is confident he’ll emerge victorious this weekend.
“I’m Nonito’s biggest fan right now,” Mares said. “I’m cheering for him. But again, it’s going to be a good fight. I know Arce has pulled a lot of upsets. I hope Nonito wins and I’m sure he’ll win.”