By Jake Donovan
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer speaks with a tremendous amount of pride whenever Abner Mares’ name is mentioned these days, and for good reason.
Mares is Golden Boy’s first home-grown champion, earning such status after beating Joseph Agbeko for a bantamweight belt in August ’11. There was controversy surrounding the bout, but Mares removed all doubt with a dominant points win in their rematch four months later.
The unbeaten boxer has since moved on to win titles in two more weight classes, picking up belts in the super bantamweight and featherweight division, the latter where he presently resides as champion. Mares will have a chance to add to his already stellar résumé when he faces Jhonny Gonzalez in their August 24 Showtime-televised main event in Carson, California.
Between his success as he moves up the scale and his superior level of competition, it is believed by Mares’ promoter that his true place among the world’s very best is a bit underrated.
“When I look at these lists, I believe that Abner Mares in my opinion belongs in the #2 spot,” Schaefer insists of his stud three-division champ.
A quick glance at pound-for-pound lists among relevant sites will show Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward – both also unbeaten – occupying the top two spots. Mares is universally recognized as among the best 10 fighters, cracking the Top 5 of several publications.
“You have Andre Ward, a tremendous fighter who I respect a great deal. He won the super middleweight tournament on Showtime. Abner won the Showtime Bantamweight tournament. Look what Abner has done since then, and look what Andre Ward has done since then.
“It's no question who has accomplished more.”
Ward won the Super Six tournament with wins over Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika (though “non-sanctioned” within the scope of the tournament), Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. Mares’ road to supremacy wasn’t quite as extensive or dominant, scoring close wins over Vic Darchinyan in Dec. ’10 and then the aforementioned first win over Agbeko eight months later.
The aftermath, however, lends credence to Schaefer’s argument. Ward has fought just once since then – a 10th round knockout over Chad Dawson, who dropped down from light heavyweight for their super middleweight championship bout last September. The rest of Ward’s time in the past 20 or so months has been spent rehabbing injuries, commentating for HBO and unsuccessfully attempting to break free from his promotional contract with Goossen-Tutor Promotions.
Meanwhile, Mares has continued to add to a breakneck schedule which – dating back to his draw with Yonnhy Perez in May ’10 – is as good as it gets in the sport today. Wins over Darchinyan, Agbeko (twice), Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce de Leon have forced the boxing world to stand up and take notice, especially when measured against other fighters who have fought at a similar level of competition but without the same level of success.
“You have (above Mares) Juan Manuel Marquez, who was dominated in every second of the fight with Floyd Mayweather,” Schaefer points out. “Mayweather is the clear #1 fighter in the world. After that, it's my opinion that Abner Mares is the clear #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
The bout will serve as Mares’ first defense of the featherweight belt he won from Ponce de Leon this past May, and his eighth straight fight against a former or current world champion. Gonzalez – a former titlist at bantamweight and featherweight - was the belt’s previous owner before losing it to Ponce de Leon last September. He has since won two straight.
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