By Robert Morales
If we had a dime for every time a fighter said he wants to fight only the best opponents, we'd be rich. The problem is, few follow through on that kind of declaration. But every once in a while a fighter like Abner Mares comes along. Unlike others, he doesn't just talk the talk - he walks the walk.
Looking over Mares' ring record, he has tangled in his past five fights with Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko twice and Eric Morel - all champions or former world champions. Mares drew with Perez in a battle for a bantamweight title, but defeated the rest.
He is now getting set to defend his super bantamweight title against Anselmo Moreno of Panama on Nov. 10 at Staples Center (on Showtime). Moreno, 27, is yet another difficult foe. He is a left-hander, and about as technically sound as a fighter can be.
"Nowadays, I've noticed that in boxing people dress nice, people look good, people trying to do a different thing in boxing. But if you really go back in time, it wasn't about looks, it wasn't about how well-dressed you are, it wasn't about being liked. It was about being respected and fighting the best," Mares said.
"And I want to bring that back. I want to be one of the guys that has fought nothing but the champions and continue that because that's the way it should be. I mean, if you are a champion, you have to fight the No. 1-ranked (contender); if not, another champion and unify it. I really respect that and I respect my sport."
Moreno (31-1-1, 12 KOs), a former bantamweight champion, made 10 title defenses before moving up in weight. Mares' manager, Frank Espinoza of West Covina, admitted he had some apprehension about Mares taking this fight.
"Yeah, I did because the style that he (Moreno) has is very awkward," Espinoza said. "But knowing Abner, he wants to fight the best and we're up for the challenge."
To that end, fellow super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire is the one Mares would really love to fight. Donaire is in every respected top-10 pound-for-pound poll, and a win over Donaire would land Mares in that company. It's not a fight easily made, however, because Mares fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and Donaire fights for Top Rank Inc., and the two promotional giants dislike one another.
"They (promoters) should respect that and, hopefully, they can make that happen," Mares said.
Donaire echoed that sentiment during a conference call Friday.
"I hope so," said Donaire, who next Saturday will defend his two belts against Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan at Home Depot Center. "But it's up to the promoters."