By Cliff Rold
Abner Mares wants it. Nonito Donaire is re-tweeting it. The fans sure as heck would go for it.
There is no fight that needs to happen more, relative to any weight division, than a showdown between the two most accomplished fighters in the Jr. Featherweight. Somewhere the Cult of Rigo is howling.
Go light your candles and wait your turn.
122 lbs. has a fight that could potentially thrill, with two fighters who can both sell. Top Rank and Golden Boy don’t like to work together. Too often, the big name fighters hide behind that nonsense. Donaire and Mares aren’t doing that.
If the businessmen they’ve hired to promote them can’t act like grown-ups, a pox on both their houses.
Let’s got the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Mares B+; Moreno B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Mares B; Moreno C+/Post: B+; B-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Mares B; Moreno A/Post: B; B+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Mares A; Moreno A/Post: Same
As evidenced in the post-fight recap, there was a lot to like about Saturday’s main event on Showtime. It’s not rocket science. Take two elite level talents, both in their prime, both still with the hunger for more, and let them sort it out in the ring.
It was a tale of two fights that spoke highly of both men. Mares won the first half, Moreno the second, with the margins in each deciding the outcome. That Moreno came back in the second half spoke of the heart he has on a night where his elusiveness wasn’t elusive enough.
Moreno looked like he was wilting when dropped in the fifth and the Mares right hand was locked in. He dug deep, slowed down the pace, and fought hard. He managed to stun Mares in eight only for Mares to come back and force Moreno to fire back to close. It was a fantastic round. In the eleventh, Moreno bounced back from a deduction to hurt Mares to the body and win the round on the cards of the two judges who watched the fight.
Dr. James Jen Kin, who scored a shutout for Mares, turned in as incompetent a card as provided all year. The other two judges, while maybe a point wider than what looked like the real range of the fight, turned in perfectly fine cards so the judging can’t be critiqued too hard. This scribe had Moreno by a point, but Mares’s aggression made it easy to like him even in his less effective rounds.
In the rounds where he was effective, he made it naked and obvious.
There has been some protesting of the officiating of Raul Caiz Jr., and the deduction in round eleven against Moreno was ticky-tack considering the sort of hard fouls Mares got away with, but he did a better job than he’s getting credit for. It’s not easy to make calls against Mares. His fouls sort of come seamless in streams of offense. They’re not easy to pick up and he forced opponents to respond. The latter offense often becomes easier to see.
Famed foul Welterweight Fritzie Zivic used to be a master of that sort of thing. So was Roberto Duran. Mares may never be in that class, but those aren’t bad role models for success.
If he is going to get into that class, it will be because he continues to win against the sort of consistent opposition that should be a model for any top level guy. In near succession, he’s faced Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, and Anselmo Moreno.
Now he wants Donaire.
Fighting and beating the level of foe he has is how Mares has proved that he means it when he says he wants the best and that he’s more than earned it in asking for the man regarded as the very best around his weight.
Report Card Picks 2012: 58-20
Heavyweight: Robert Helenius, who got a gift nod against Derek Chisora before injury shelved him for most of a year, looked terribly mediocre against journeyman Sherman Williams Saturday and slides in the ratings. He’s off the track he’d built with some nice building wins like Samuel Peter.
Jr. Middleweight: Lara remains as he was but Martirosyan fought him on fairly even terms and re-enters the top ten.
Jr. Featherweight: Mares rises to the number one contender slot. He and Donaire: make it. Moreno remains the top rated Bantamweight.
The full results of note and impact on the ratings are a click away.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]