By Keith Idec
The injury that forced Abner Mares to withdraw last week from his fight against Gervonta Davis is much more serious than he initially led everyone to believe.
Several media outlets reported that Mares suffered an elbow injury during training camp for their February 9 fight in Carson, California. Mares revealed Sunday on national television that a detached retina in his right eye is actually what caused him to pull out of their scheduled 12-rounder for Davis’ WBA “super” world super featherweight title.
The 33-year-old Mares made the announcement Sunday during the premiere of the most recent episode of “Inside PBC Boxing” on FOX.
Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) said he suffered the career-threatening injury, the second detached retina of his career, during a sparring session January 23. The Downey, California, resident kept sparring that day, sparred again two days later and finally heeded his wife’s demand to see an eye specialist.
“It happened in a sparring session on Wednesday [January 23],” Mares told FOX’s Kate Abdo during an exclusive interview. “I got hit in the eye. I felt the pain, but I went through it. I still sparred. I came back on Friday for another session, got hit again. It’s a contact sport, and my eye got super red. And then it was that Friday and Saturday, that’s when I started seeing clouds and just blurred vision. And I told my wife, and my wife’s like, ‘You’ve gotta get it checked.’ I said, ‘No, I’m good.’
“So Monday came, and I was gonna go to the gym. I had another sparring session ready for Monday. I usually spar Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But my wife insisted, ‘You should go see a doctor.’ So, she won. I went to the doctor. I seen my eye doctor, the specialist, and he said, ‘Abner, you have a detached retina. You’re not gonna be able to fight.’ And that was pretty much it.”
Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz pounced Wednesday on an opportunity to replace Mares, even on 10 days’ notice. Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs) will challenge Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) in the main event of Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night from Dignity Health Sports Park, the outdoor venue formerly known as StubHub Center.
The detached retina remains painful. Perhaps more hurtful, however, were suggestions from Davis and many others that Mares might’ve faked an injury to get out of boxing the powerful southpaw from Baltimore.
“It was really hard for me to hear those words once again,” Mares said. “It was devastating, and more devastating knowing that when I canceled the fight, when the fight was announced canceled, the messages I was receiving from people, saying that I was a fake, that I was faking injury, that it was a way to pull out of the fight. But in reality, people didn’t know what I was going through.
“People didn’t know the pain I was going through. And I’m not that type of person. I’m not that type of fighter. I always fight. I called out Davis. I wanted him. He direct-messaged me, saying the same thing, ‘Why’d you have to fake an injury?’ And that really boiled me up. I responded back, and it’s been a tough week.”
Mares overcame a detached retina in his left eye, an injury sustained in 2008, by winning world titles in three weight classes. The 2004 Mexican Olympian hopes to return from this detached retina as well.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m here, that I’m letting people know what’s going on, what’s happening,” Mares said. “Yes, I do have a detached retina. But let me remind you people – a lot of people don’t know – in 2008, I suffered a detached retina in my left eye. Eleven years later, I’ve been a four-time world champion. I became a four-time world champion, with a detached retina. Unfortunately, I’m suffering another one in my right eye. It doesn’t mean an ended career for myself. I feel strong. I know that I’m gonna come back after this.
“It’s just a matter of healing, resting and doing what the doctors say. My doctor, he’s one of the best. And if he says, ‘Abner, you’re good to go,’ I’m gonna go up there and continue to become a world champion once again. And if he says no, I’m ready for retirement. But I honestly feel that I’m gonna come back and I’m gonna conquer that, become a world champion once again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.