By Jake Donovan
With Nonito Donaire on his way to the 122 lb. division, it stands to reason that the four participants in tonight’s doubleheader on Showtime also serve as the top four bantamweights in the world.
There’s an equally strong argument for the best two in the world residing in the Golden Boy Promotions stable, yet both are eyed as the fighters with something to prove tonight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Abner Mares (22-0-1, 13KO) became the first fighter to go from pro debut to world champion entirely under the Golden Boy banner when he defeated Joseph Agbeko this past August to capture the lone title that was available in the four-man Showtime Bantamweight tournament.
The close nature of their fight - coupled with the controversy surrounding it – was grounds enough for an immediate rematch, which headlines the telecast which airs at 9PM ET.
In the televised co-feature, Anselmo Moreno – the newest member of the Golden Boy family – makes his debut under the banner, along with his first fight in the United States and on stateside television when he faces former two-division champion Vic Darchinyan.
Both fights are believed by the Golden Boy staff to be indicative of the strong belief in its fighters, placing them in virtual pick-‘em fights when an in-house matchup could have just as easily been made and sold to any network.
Instead, the Los Angeles-based company hopes to clear up any lingering doubt that the fighters that fly its colors are the best the bantamweight division have to offer, beginning with the one that helped end a decade-long drought of raising a fighter from the root to the fruit.
“We talk about young fighters, and one that will always have a special place in our heart is Abner Mares,” says Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “We are happy that he gets to make his first title defense close to home here in Southern California, in what will be another exciting fight. This time, Abner will clear up any lingering controversy and confusion from the first fight and set the record straight.”
While Mares seeks a second chance at convincing the world – and Agbeko – of his true worth among the bantamweight elite, his promotional stable mate looks to make a big splash.
“I've had eight title defenses, but I needed a name like Vic Darchinyan to put my name out there on the map,” states Moreno (31-1-1, 11KO). “I'm very happy to be with Golden Boy Promotions now and my mindset is all about Dec. 3 and coming out victorious.”
A win puts Moreno in a terrific position to shine a spotlight on his long overlooked career. The Panamanian carries into the ring a 25-fight win streak dating back to 2002, and has reigned as bantamweight titlist for more than three years.
The goal for tonight is to win. The goal beyond tonight is to add to his credentials.
“I know after I win I will want to challenge the other winner to unify the titles. Why not fight Abner Mares after this fight, or Agbeko? I want to unify all the titles at 118.”
Such a mentality is why Golden Boy was eager to sign him. Though it’s one thing to say it, and another to show the fans that you’re worth a second look.
“Moreno knows that first impressions count,” Schaefer states. “He’s not coming for a tune-up, he’s taking on most of hardest hitting guys in the sport in Darchinyan. For Anselmo to pack his bags and come to the states to take on a guy like that, shows you what he’s all about and what we think about his skills. With this show, we’re talking about - along with Donaire – the best bantamweights in the world, and they’re all fighting each other one after another. It’s what boxing is all about.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]