By Jake Donovan
All stateside eyes are on Las Vegas this weekend, when Floyd Mayweather Jr. returns to the ring in a welterweight fight against Robert Guerrero. In chief supporting action at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, two-division champ Abner Mares moves up to featherweight in pursuit of a third title when he faces fellow-two division titlist and managerial stablemate Daniel Ponce de Leon.
Many are predicting the bout to be the fight of the night, which would be quite a statement for the winner (and possibly even the loser) considering the pending audience for tonight’s pay-per-view event.
Mares moves up in weight after suffering as one of the many casualties of the ongoing Cold War between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank. A desired showdown with Nonito Donaire never materialized (slightly less desirable now, in the wake of Donaire’s loss to Rigondeaux), prompting the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant to pursue featherweight hardware.
Ponce de Leon enjoyed a solid bounceback in his upset win over Jhonny Gonzalez last September. The win netted him a featherweight belt, following a failed attempt against Yuriorkis Gamboa a year prior, and with the title reign coming four years after a lengthy tour as a 122 lb. titlist.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the action will go down in tonight’s co-feature attraction.
B-SCENE PREDICTIONS – DANIEL PONCE DE LEON v. ABNER MARES
“Mares by decision. Too much of a little energizer beast.”
- Damien Acevedo (Mares)
“Mares by decision. Friendship goes out the window the moment the bell rings; whether or not a memorable fight follows remains to be seen. Optimistic for a slugfest; expecting a foul-filled affair, with Mares grinding out enough rounds to become a three-division beltholder.”
- Jake Donovan (Mares)
“Here's your fight of the night. A guy who grinds opponents into dust with bodywork, against a guy who's more than likely going to be there to get hit. It'll be interesting to see what Mares does if he gets hit squarely, or if his attack doesn't wither Ponce de Leon as quickly as others. If nothing else, though, I see youth as a tiebreaker. Mares UD 12”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Mares)
“Ponce by TKO9. Ponce's camp has been fantastic by all accounts and while Mares' run has been impressive he has not seen someone as physical or as agressive as Ponce. Ponce will instill his will from the get go and force the smaller Mares to stay on the outside as much as he can but his warrior spirit will get the better of him and will get drawn into a fire fight. There is where Ponce will be his best work and stop Mares while being down on the cards.”
- Ernie Gabion (Ponce de Leon)
"Mares by UD. I'm expecting a war similar to Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II, where Mares, the more versatile fighter, is able to make just enough adjustments to pull out a hotly contested decision.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Mares)
“This will be a war of attrition, and one that will showcase why Mares is thought so highly of. Mares by SD or UD.”
- Richard Najdowski (Mares)
“I'm a little lost at what some people see in this fight. As a co-feature, it's okay but, well, when was the last really good Ponce De Leon fight? He's had some fights that are tricky to score, he's had some monster knockouts, but most of his fights are just sort of there. Mares is of course almost always in good fights so who knows? The biggest point of intrigue here is that Mares isn't a big puncher and fights at close range, meaning De Leon's power is a factor for all twelve rounds. Mares has beaten much better fighters, if at lighter weights, and should be able to handle the puncher's chance just fine.”
- Cliff Rold (Mares)
“Mares SD. Leather will be thrown but the most damage may come from head clashes. Ponce will be his usual self and throw a high number of punches with Mares matching his work rate but with more accuracy. Mares will get bullied around a bit due to Ponce being the bigger fighter but he does enough to win a tight Split Decision and getting stunned in the process.”
- Luis Sandoval (Mares)
“Mares MD. In a battle of youth and experience, the winner will be... finesse. Mares is equal to the reigning champion in terms of boxing experience at the elite level, while De Leon is as energetic as his younger rival lately. But though a harder hitter, his flawed defense, mediocre footwork and lack of finesse will result in a close loss.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Mares)
Totals: Abner Mares 8, Daniel Ponce de Leon 1
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox