By Ryan Maquiñana
Frank Espinoza, manager of featherweight titleholder Abner Mares, discussed his fighter’s potential Aug. 24 matchup with Jhonny Gonzalez.
“First of all, Abner will fight anybody,” Espinoza told BoxingScene.com. “When you get to this level, you have to fight guys like Jhonny Gonzalez, an ex-two-time champion.”
After amassing belts at bantamweight and junior featherweight, Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs), from Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., made his 126-pound debut in May, impressively stopping Daniel Ponce de Leon in the ninth round. If the deal is finalized, he will make his first defense against Mexico City’s Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs), who once possessed Mares’s belt before losing it to Ponce de Leon last September.
“I think it’s an entertaining matchup,” Espinoza added. “Jhonny brings a lot to the table. Abner wants to prove he is a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, and a win over Jhonny would add to his legacy.”
Despite the buzz surrounding Mares possibly taking on Golden Boy stablemate Gary Russell Jr. down the line, Espinoza revealed that his team’s focus has narrowed in one direction for the moment.
“Honestly, right now, we’re not even interested in Russell or anyone else at 126 [pounds],” Espinoza said. “Jhonny Gonzalez is our focus right now. We’re not looking past him. Certainly we have to sit down with Golden Boy and see what their ideas are, but right now, we’re preparing for Jhonny Gonzalez, and we’ll see what’s next.”
Mares-Gonzalez is reportedly slated for StubHub (formerly Home Depot) Center in Carson, Calif., and would air on Showtime. Junior featherweight titlist Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs) would defend his belt against rising star Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs) in the televised co-feature.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.