Espinoza Talks Mares vs. Gonzalez, Gary Russell Jr.

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  “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 during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for  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, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by brick wall on 06-27-2013

gonzales is good fighter but he's not durable...most of his losses were by ko. mares would knock him out too. it's gonna be an entertaining fight though for as long as it lasts. as for russel, he should step up…

Comment by anonymous2.0 on 06-27-2013

[QUOTE=badnewsbrown;13509842]Lara-Angulo rematch[/QUOTE] I would like to hear your explanation on why this is relevant to the article.

Comment by richardt on 06-27-2013

I heard Russell wants to get married but he is waiting because he wants a wife named TBA since he loves TBA's. How in THE HELL could this guy turn down Billy Dibb? I'll never forget that. He has a…

Comment by .:: JSFD26 ::. on 06-27-2013

[quote=dc3383] Quote: Originally Posted by badnewsbrown Lara-Angulo rematch not with Angulo's eye [/quote] Lara vs another Mexican? [SIZE="1"][I]Posted from App for Android[/I][/SIZE]

Comment by Evil Abed on 06-27-2013

Fun fight. Abner Mares needs more fights at 126 to establish himself. He's a small guy and needs to acclimate.

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