By Chris Robinson
Last night, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, WBO junior featherweight champion Nonito Donaire added the IBF belt to his collection after a commanding victory over awkward South African Jeffrey Mathebula. Registering a knockdown in the fourth round off of a crisp left hand and landing heavy blows throughout the contest, Donaire’s skills were on display as he settled for a unanimous decision victory by scores of 119-108, 118-109, and 117-110.
An interested spectator at the show was WBC championAbner Mares, who admits he had a keen interest on how exactly Donaire, a man he considers a possible future opponent, was going to perform.
“He showed a lot,” Mares would tell me after the fight. “He’s always known for being skillful; he knows how to use the ring. But I think I could give him a good fight.”
Opening more as to why he feels he would be successful versus the unorthodox Donaire, Mares grinned slightly before offering up his response.
“He got hit a lot,” Mares said of Donaire, who came away with a bit of a bruised face after his duel with the 5’11” Mathebula. “A lot of shots that he wasn’t supposed to. It’s a future fight. We definitely are willing to fight this guy, we want this fight, and we’re definitely going to study him.”
The highlight of his bantamweight run being an electrifying knockout over Fernando Montiel in February of 2011, there are those who question if the Fil-Am star has fully brought his power with him to 122 pounds. Against Mathebula he landed several stiffening blows but at times he looked as if he was loading up and looking for one emphatic shot to end the evening.
Mares feels that Donaire may have had tried to press the issue a bit too much in order to secure the stoppage victory.
“Maybe, maybe,” Abner answered. “I think he wants to demonstrate that he still has that KO power at this weight class. But then again, he didn’t get the knockout. But a great performance by him.”
One thing that may hold up a potential Donaire-Mares fight is the fact that the prizefighters are promoted by separate entities in Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions that are presently in a bit of a cold war. Still, Mares hopes that making the fight is important enough for the two sides to come together and find some kind of resolution.
“I think it can be worked out,” said Mares. “To my belief, I think it should be the first Top Rank-Golden Boy fight that should be made. We really hope so; let’s ask for the promoters to come to an agreement.”
Mares is coming off of a solid win over former flyweight champion Eric Morel on April 21st and he understands that he may have to look outside of Donaire in order to land the meaningful fight that he desires.
“We’re hoping to get a big fight by the end of the year,” said Mares. “If not Nonito, there’s big names in our weight class.”