by Cliff Rold, photo by Tom Casino/Showtime
Saturday night, they share a twin bill in El Paso, Texas. It is the second fight card in a row where they have done so. They share a promoter. They are the same size. They are both getting Showtime’s air.
It’s got all the ingredients of a classic match. Both men, at 26 years old, are reaching their peak and, depending on who’s opining, beginning to get play in conversations about the world’s best overall fighters. Clearly, former IBF Bantamweight titlist Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KO) and current WBA Bantamweight titlist Anselmo Moreno (32-1-1, 11 KO) are on a collision course, right?
Not so fast.
Neither man has said they don’t want to fight the other. It’s hard not to miss, when each man names the men they’d like to face next, neither tops the others list. One looks at the best opponents available at Jr. Featherweight, the division Mares debuts in this weekend, the division Moreno seems next to enter if he wins this weekend, leaves the obvious glaring.
Mares and Moreno better start talking up a battle because most of the rest of what they say they want doesn’t seem headed for the ring.
As recorded by BoxingScene’s Jake Donovan earlier this week , Mares broke down his potential future foes stating, “I’m going to name like five (guys to face) and all of them would be great fights from bottom to top: Victor Terrazas, Fernando Montiel, Rafael Marquez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jorge Arce and the big name that is up there is, no doubt, Nonito Donaire.”
Moreno can be found in agreement with Mares on at least one of those names . “That is a dream of mine…I’ve been dreaming about it, thinking about it and that is something I look forward to. Work my way up to 122 pounds and fighting Nonito Donaire is definitely something that I have on my mind.”
It would surely please Mares and Moreno to know they are not alone. Most boxing fans and followers would find it just as big, as dreamy, to see Donaire-Mares or Donaire-Moreno.
Most might not include Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer.
That’s all that really matters.
Boxing fans not living under a rock might have read or heard of a bit of acrimony between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions. To be sure, it comes and goes in waves. The companies have done their share of business between icy breaks in relations.
And, in this case, Top Rank doesn’t really need Mares or Moreno to make a big fight for Donaire. Look again at the list of fighters Mares listed as potential foes. Montiel, Vazquez Jr., Arce, and Donaire are all with Top Rank. Not named is Jr. Featherweight titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux, also with Top Rank, or the man regarded as tops at Jr. Featherweight Toshiaki Nishioka. Nishioka’s promoter did easy business with Top Rank last year to make Nishioka-Rafael Marquez.
Top Rank has already made Donaire-Vazquez, appears likely to make Donaire-Arce, and has repeatedly talked about Donaire-Nishioka after an Arce money affair. Top Rank can make money, fan friendly fights, and provide challenges for Donaire without ever having to leave their stable.
That leaves Terrazas as the stand out easily available to Mares. Terrazas, with an upset of Fernando Montiel last year, raised his profile among hardcore fight fans but he’s not going to move turnstiles.
Moreno won’t yet either, but Golden Boy, in bringing him to the U.S., is beginning the work of building his profile. If he gets past once-beaten David De La Mora this weekend, Moreno will extend a winning streak stretching back to 2002. He will also get another chance to expand what has been a growing cult of fans in recent years that like the ghosts of Pernell Whitaker and Hilario Zapata his style can evoke.
Moreno-Donaire isn’t a new conversation. Top Rank claimed in 2011 to be looking to make a fight between the two before Donaire attempted unsuccessfully for Golden Boy and before Moreno ultimately signed with Top Rank’s promotional rival.
Somehow, none of this seems to be the logical path to a showdown pitting the Panamanian and Filipino-American.
The only logical path appearing under construction for Mares and Moreno is the one they aren’t talking up. That should change.
They might not get what they want, but they are probably just what each other need.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Mensah Outbrawls Katsidis: https://www.boxingscene.com/mensah-outduels-michael-katsidis-bruising-vegas-battle--51751
Lightweight Shake-Up: https://www.boxingscene.com/-abril-hangover-weekend-review-ratings-update--51862
Updated Division Ratings: https://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week:
Cliff’s Notes… We are less than two months from Kazuto Ioka-Akira Yaegashi. Do we call Japan the “Land of the Rising Superfight” until June? How badass is Ioka for taking a unification fight in his tenth pro start? His handlers must think they have a special one. They just might…It was scoffed at by some, but the WBA did the rare something good when they let Richard Abril maintain his interim title tag. He’s never going to move big tickets or TV ratings, but the win he earned over Rios should have insured another solid payday. The WBA has made sure he’s at least got title money coming in the next time out…Nonito Donaire-Cristian Mijares didn’t sound too bad but the idea of a unification with Jeffrey Mathebula in July is even better...How long can Felix Sturm avoid Gennady Golovkin?
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]