By Fancisco Salazar
If you have not been a fan of Abner Mares throughout his professional career, then you have been disappointed by his performances in the ring.
Winning a close split decision over Vic Darchinyan, two decision victories over Joseph Agbeko (the first one controversial due to Mares’ low blows), and a clear victory over one of the more savvy fighters in boxing today in Anselmo Moreno.
Even if a fight was not able to be made with whom the boxing media and fans hoped for in Nonito Donaire, Mares moved on, even though wishful thinking does keep hopes that the fight will happen one day.
Mares has a dangerous challenge in front of him tonight in an attempt to assert himself as one of the best fighters in a new division and boxing today.
Mares will take on Daniel Ponce De Leon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout will precede the main event bout between Floyd Mayweather and Robert Guerrero.
A former world title holder in two weight classes, Mares has not fought since November 10th when he defeated Moreno at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Some boxing analysts may think he is biting off more than he could chew because he is facing a fighter in Ponce De Leon who punches hard and is stronger than him. Others will hope to enjoy what could an anticipated war between two Mexican-born fighters.
Despite those who pick Ponce De Leon to win, Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) is confident he could win a decision and become a world title holder in three different weight classes.
“The weight is not going to be an issue for me in this fight,” Mares told Boxingscene.com in a telephone interview on Thursday. I have a lot of confidence because of the work we did in the gym. I know that he is the heavier puncher, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to get through the fight.”
“I know that there is going to be added pressure, but to me, it strengthens my game plan. It’s going to be the fight of the night. I’m going to go in there and if it’s a war, great. If it comes down to being a technical fight, then I’ll do what I have to do to be victorious.”
One of the reasons Mares has been able to fill out his body well is due to his work with strength and conditioning coach Luis Garcia. Mares has worked with Garcia for almost two years.
Garcia has implemented workout regimens that have been documented on Mares’ and Garcia’s twitter accounts. Whether it is working with ropes or medicine balls, Mares has enjoyed every aspect of what Garcia has brought to his camp.
“Everything that we have done conditioning wise with Luis has made me a stronger fighter,” said Mares, who grew up in the working class Los Angeles suburb of Hawaiian Gardens. “I’ve definitely feel the strength factor going from 118 to 126 pounds. It’s the hard days of training I put in with Luis and we feel very comfortable at this weight.”
While Mares is set to challenge Ponce De Leon, his first objective after fighting Moreno was fighting Nonito Donaire. It was a fight that has been on the wish list of those associated with boxing.
The three million dollar offer made by Golden Boy Promotions, Mares’ promoter, to Top Rank, which promotes Donaire, is well known to those in boxing. However, the proposed fight has been a victim for the time being of the “Cold War” between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank.
Mares hopes cooler heads will prevail one day and the fight could be made, despite the face Donaire lost to Guillermo Rigondeaux last month.
“I just hope promotional companies realize fights of this magnitude could happen. Nonito is a great fighter at 126 pounds. I’m willing and happy to fight him or anyone at 126 pounds.”
Mares will be in for a tough battle tonight against Ponce De Leon. Although there are those who may pick against him, he is okay with that. He has proven doubters wrong throughout his career and hopes to do it again tonight.
However, Mares is not only about proving doubters wrong. He strives to be the best he could be and to fight the best in his division. Nothing wrong with that outlook, as he has been successful so far in his career.
A victory over Ponce De Leon will give him a world title belt and much credibility in the sport, more than the high expectations placed on him when he made his professional debut in 2005.
“I know my fight with Ponce De Leon is a tough one. My fight against him was the best out there for me and I know he is ranked high as a featherweight. There are many great featherweights out there. My goal with a victory to not only be a world champion, but to be one of the best in the division as well. A victory gets me there.”