By Keith Idec
Eric Morel isn’t supposed to beat Abner Mares on Saturday night.
Morel has won 11 straight fights, but he is 36 and nearly 10 years removed from his reign as an undefeated flyweight champion. The veteran nicknamed “Little Hands of Steel” is considered a respectable but safe opponent for Mares’ move from bantamweight to super bantamweight.
The 26-year-old Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs) has still prepared for their fight at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, as if Morel (46-2, 23 KOs) is the top 122-pound boxer in the world.
“I’m not training any different because he’s  years old,” Mares said on a conference call. “I’m not training less because has more fights [than me]. I’m just training like I train for any opponent. I just look at this fight like another fight. Another opponent, another fight.
“I’ve fought top opposition and I’ve been able to adjust to every fighter. That’s just because of the way I train and the way I set myself mentally. … I know he trains hard and I do expect a tough fight. None of that crosses my mind.”
Morel is confident he can overcome Mares’ 10-year youth advantage and pull off an upset in the main event of a Showtime doubleheader, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EDT.
“Mares is a great fighter, but my age is nothing but a number,” said Morel, of Madison, Wisc. “I’m in great shape, my speed is there and I have more power. I feel like nothing is going to stop me. I can guarantee you that age isn’t catching up to me.
Morel realizes he hasn’t beaten an opponent of Mares’ caliber during the 11-fight winning streak that began in February 2008, when Morel resumed his 15-year pro career following an incarceration on a sexual assault conviction. But Morel doesn’t feel like a faded fighter incapable of defeating one of the top competitors in their new weight class.
“This is a great matchup and the best man’s going to win,” Morel said. “The hungrier man is going to win, the one that comes in more prepared. Mares is a very complete fight and I know what I’m getting into. It’s going to be great.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.