By Jake Donovan
Abner Mares and Jhonny Gonzalez will collide in a featherweight title fight on August 24 in Carson, California. However, it’s not the first time the two shared ring space.
The two were once sparring partners back when both were trained by Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain. Gonzalez is still with the Hall of Fame trainer, but Mares moved on in 2009 and has since fought under the Espinoza Boxing Club banner.
Both fighters have enjoyed varying degrees of success since those days, but still recall their time spent together in past camps. Neither expects the element of familiarity to impact their forthcoming Showtime-televised main event.
“I don't think it will affect the fight,” Mares (26-0-1, 14KO) says of the first defense of the featherweight belt. “I showed in the last fight with Daniel Ponce de Leon - we sparred many times and were gym partners. It didn't affect me and it didn't affect him.”
Mares won the featherweight title from Ponce de Leon, stopping his stablemate in nine rounds this past May. The win marked his third title in as many weight classes, having also won belts at bantamweight and super bantamweight before moving up in weight.
“I saw a different Ponce de Leon (than in the gym,” Mares states. “You can't expect the same type of fighter from sparring on fight night.”
The sentiment is echoed by Gonzalez, who has won two straight since losing his belt to Ponce de Leon last September.
“That was many years ago, in the beginning of Abner's career,” Gonzalez (54-8, 46KO) says of their past sparring sessions. “He's moved on to become a three-division world champion. He's among the elite fighters in the world. It wouldn't have any affect on our fight; we’re both different fighters now.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox