By Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer expects nothing but fireworks on April 20th, when undefeated Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13KOs) pursues his third divisional title by moving up to the featherweight division to challenge WBC featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35KOs) in a Showtime televised main event at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
Frustrated with his inability to secure a unification match with WBO champion Nonito Donaire, Mares vacated his WBC super bantamweight title and announced his intention to move up in weight.
For Schaefer, Ponce De Leon vs. Mares brings back memories of the four-fight series between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez. Two of those four matches were held at the Home Depot Center.
"I think it's a terrific matchup stylistically. These are two guys who come forward and they will give it their all. And it's the perfect venue, and it's the venue that was really made famous by these terrific couple of fights that were there between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez. In many ways when I think about Ponce fighting Mares, it really reminds me of the potential that it could become like an Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez [type of fight]," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com.
"Great for Ponce to be willing to give Abner the opportunity to fight for the title. And great for Abner, moving up another weight class and challenging Ponce De Leon. It will be a terrific fight and one of those fights where going in you know it's going to be a terrific fight. It's a fight that's going to keep you on the edge on your seat."
Mares is taking a huge risk. Last year he fought a very dangerous fighter in Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno, but Mares was technically the bigger man and Moreno was moving up to his division. Against Ponce, Mares takes on one of the most feared punchers in the game and Ponce De Leon is still the man who gave Adrien Broner a serious run for his money in 2011. Two of the three official judges had Broner beating Ponce De Leon by only a two-point margin.
"He's a very dangerous fighter. Mares is a come forward fighter and I think that's plays right into Ponce's strengths. But at the same time, as we've seen in the fight with Anselmo Moreno, Abner is a very smart fighter who can deal with an awkward style and he also showed that in the Vic Darchinyan fight. but Ponce has such a strong punch and can really hurt [an opponent]. It's going to be really exciting and my hat goes off to both guys to be willing to challenge each other. And since both of them are promoted by Golden Boy - may the best man win," Schaefer said.
Frank Espinoza finds himself in an unfamiliar situation as he manages both Ponce De Leon and Mares.
"I'm not going to walk either guy to the ring. I'm not going to work either of their corners. This is the first time where two of my fighters went against each other in the ring. I feel very close to both of them. For me, it won't be a good feeling inside to watch the two of them fight each other. But both of them wanted to fight each other and it's the best opportunity out there, for both of them, and I have to do what's best for each fighter," Espinoza told BoxingScene.com.
As for the Ponce De Leon-Marez co-feature, Schaefer is attempting to finalize a welterweight showdown between Marcos Maidana (33-3, 30KOs) and Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18KOs).
"If we are successful and we're talking to both camps - of Maidana and Josesito. If we are successful to get that done, it would be an absolute barnburner of a doubleheader. It would be a sensational card," Schaefer said.
Schaefer indicates that another boxer who is likely going to appear on the card, potentially as part of a Showtime Extreme broadcast, is welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (15-0, 11KOs).
"I think it's going to stay as a doubleheader because on the same night we're going to have an episode of "All Access Mayweather-Guerrero." There could be, maybe a Showtime Extreme and we're looking at potentially putting Frankie Gomez on that card as well," Schaefer said.