By Jake Donovan
Injuries have prevented Abner Mares and Jayson Velez from separate shots at obtaining the same alphabet featherweight title.
For the moment, it is also preventing them from facing each other in order to secure a title shot.
A planned purse bid for a final eliminator between the two highest-rated contenders to the World Boxing Councing (WBC) featherweight title has been postponed, the WBC announced Wednesday afternoon.
Talks of such a fight have flown under the radar, as Mares (26-1-1, 14KO) – a former three-division champ – was slated to face Jonathan Oquendo on July 12 in Las Vegas. His placement on the pay-per-view card – headlined by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez versus Erislandy Lara – was confirmed by promoter Golden Boy Promotions in its own announcement of the full undercard Tuesday evening.
A win by Mares would have presumably put him in position for an elimination bout with Velez (22-0, 16KO). Such a fight will have to come down the road, following “a thorough revision of this division, with its pending contracts and options…fully addressed by the WBC Board of Governors,” the WBC’s office declared in a press statement.
The WBC plans to look into the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of past title fights regarding both boxers. Mares was slated to face Jhonny Gonzalez in a rematch to their clash last August, in which Gonzalez scored a shocking 1st round knockout to regain his old title.
Mares was undefeated at the time, having just won the featherweight belt – his third conquered weight class in a span of less than two years – in his previous bout, a 9th round stoppage win over Daniel Ponce de Leon last May.
Strangely enough, Mares has Velez to thank for that opportunity. De Leon – who won the title from Gonzalez in Sept. ’12 – was scheduled to defend versus Velez last March in New York City. However, the unbeaten Puerto Rican suffered an untimely injury, not only pulling out of the fight but not resurfacing until late in the year, with Mares landing the rescheduled title fight instead.
Velez has fought twice since that letdown, including a 2nd round knockout of Miguel Soto in April.
Mares - a member of the 2004 Mexico Olympic boxing team – hasn’t fought since the loss to Gonzalez. His July 12 date with Oquendo will have followed a near 11-month layoff, the longest of his career. With a win, the 28-year old hopes to return to the title picture.
All parties involved can only hope the WBC has things sorted out by then, as the Mexico-City based sanctioning body “will be communicating the result of their meeting as soon as possible.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.