Middleweight beltholder Peter Quillin could soon defend his WBO title against promotional stablemate Danny Jacobs.
Can Mares war with Gonzalez? Ask the experts
THE RING's No. 5-rated pound-for-pound boxer, Abner Mares, will be in his sixth consecutive title bout and his eighth consecutive fight against a RING-ranked fighter when he faces Jhonny Gonzalez on Saturday.
It's safe to call Jhonny Gonzalez a heavy-handed puncher, given that the former titleholder has scored 12 knockouts in his past 14 victories.
That's a major reason why the 31-year-old Mexican predicts that Saturday night's fight with THE RING's No. 5-rated pound-for-pound fighter Abner Mares at The StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. "is going to be a war."
In his last fight in May, Mares (26-0, 14 knockouts) won his featherweight debut -- and his third belt in a third division -- with a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon, which earned him the WBC title.
Ponce de Leon was the last man to defeat Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs), who has won two straight fights since losing an eighth-round technical decision to Ponce de Leon last September in a bout that ended his 12-fight winning streak which included 11 knockouts.
"I have fought at StubHub before, so I am very comfortable being at that venue. A lot of fight fans will recognize me from the past fights that I have fought there. On Saturday night my fight with Mares is going to be a war," said Gonzalez, whose clash with Mares will be the main event on Showtime.
A 27-year-old Mexican-born American, Mares is entering his sixth consecutive title fight, with his past seven wins coming against top opponents over three divisions -- bantamweight, junior featherwieght and featherwieght.
Mares twice defeated ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko (the first bout earning him the IBF 118-pound title), earned a split decision over two-division champ Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-titleholder Yonnhy Perez -- all over a 20-month span as a bantamweight -- before moving up to junior featherweight, where he outpointed Eric Morel for the vacant WBC 122-pound title last April.
Last November, Mares scored a fifth-round knockdown en route to a unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno.
"I've got a hard fight ahead of me. Jhonny Gonzalez is a tremendous fighter, tough, and very skilled. But I'm here to fight. Jhonny may well be thinking that this is his last shot in a big fight," said Mares.
RingTV.com sought the opinions of 17 boxing insiders as to who will win the WBC featherwieght title bout.
Abner Mares TKO 10 Jhonny Gonzalez: Abner Mares can provide further evidence that he belongs among the top five in the pound-for-pound debate with a definitive victory over Jhonny Gonzalez.
Abner Mares TKO8 Jhonny Gonzalez: Over the past few years, Abner Mares has demonstrated a very impressive ability to adapt to and defeat whatever style is thrown at him, boxers and sluggers alike. His status as an elite Pound-for-Pound fighter is well earned.
Record: 8-7 [Cleverly SD 12 Kovalev]
Abner Mares TKO 8 Jhonny Gonzalez: For me this should be a relatively smooth appointment for Abner Mares as he closes in on super fights. Jhonny Gonzalez, despite being a former champion, has never matched up well against the very best and that is precisely what he will be facing in Carson on Saturday.
Record: 3-2 [Cleverly UD 12 Kovalev]
Lee Groves, RingTV.com
Abner Mares TKO 6 Jhonny Gonzalez: A younger, fresher, better Abner Mares simply will be too much for Jhonny Gonzalez. He'll hammer Gonzalez up top and to the body, before stopping him.
Record: 7-2 [Kovalev TKO 5 Cleverly]
Abner Mares TKO 8 Jhonny Gonzalez: Abner Mares showed that his power has carried over from junior featherweight with the way he dismantled Daniel Ponce de Leon.
Record: 7-5 [Golovkinn UD 12 Macklin]
Abner Mares KO 5 Jhonny Gonzales: Classic case of a fighter beginning to reach his peak, Abenr Mares, against a fighter whose peak is years behind him, Jhonny Gonzalez. I really don't think this fight will be too competitive past a couple of rounds.
Record: 10-4 [Kovalev KO 6 Cleverly]
Abner Mares W 12 Jhonny Gonzalez: Interesting. Jhonny Gonzalez has experience and skills. However, Abner Mares is in a groove, looking sharp and in sync -- same thing I guess? Gonzaez just will not have the pop to get make Mares hesitate.
Record: 7-5 [Kovalev KO 4 Cleverly]
Abner Mares TKO 8 Jhonny Gonzalez: I Like Abner Mares. Jhonny Gonzalez is a warrior. Over his career, he's been in numerous wars and yet he is somehow still a top name at 126 in his early thirties. Mares is coming off an impressive KO of Daniel Ponce de Leon, who Gonzalez was unlucky to lose his belt to via technical decision.
Record: 6-0 [Kovalev late-round KO Cleverly]
Abner Mares TKO 11 Jhonny Gonzales: Abner Mares will be too young and too fast for the heavy-handed Jhonny Gonzales. Mares will work on the inside and bang to the body and head. He'll use his defense to smother his bigger opponent.
Abner Mares mid-rounds KO Jhonny Gonzalez: Jhonny Gonzalez obviously has the proverbial puncher's chance in this fight. But he doesn't have much more. I expect a competitive few rounds.
Record: 10-5 [Kovalev mid-round KO Cleverly]
Abner Mares late-round TKO Jhonny Gonzalez: I like Abner Mares to grind out a late TKO in a tougher-than expected fight.
I think Jhonny Gonzalez knows this may be one of his last chances, and I feel he'll be ready. But Mares is just on a roll right now and I think he's filled out well into 126 pounds.
Record: 10-3 [Kovalev mid-rounds KO Cleverly]
Abner Mares KO Jhonny Gonzalez: Abner Mares is hot right now, and has done nothing but improve with each fight.
Record: 10-5 [Kovalev KO Cleverly]
Joseph Santoliquito/THE RING Magazine/RingTV.com/CBS Sports
Abner Mares KO 10 Jhonny Gonzalez: I'm going with Abner Mares by late round stoppage, say around the 10h. Mares is physically strong, younger and has a lot more left in the tank than does Jhonny Gonzalez, who has been in a few too many wars for me to give him the edge.
Record: 5-2 [Kovalev KO 10 Cleverly]
Abner Mares TKO 9 Jhonny Gonzalez: Abner Mares is one of boxing's brightest stars who will fight anyone in, or around his weight class. He proved in his last fight, a dismantling of Daniel Pone De Leon, that the featherweight division is where he belongs going forward.
However, Gonzalez has never beaten anyone on Mares' level and at 31 he is a shop worn fighter. Mares will be much fresher and I look for him to get off the canvas to score a knockout win.
Record: 4-0 [Thurman KO 4 Chaves]
Abner Mares KO 10 Jhonny Gonzalez: While you can never discount Jhonny Gonzalez, who is a devastating puncher, Abner Mares is a much more rounded fighter.
Mares has come into his own in the last two fights, winning a wide decision over awkward Anselmo Moreno at 122 before stepping up to 126 to stun Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Record: 3-2 [Cleverly W 12 Kovalev]
By a shutout, 17-0 shutout, the experts pick Abner Mares to successfully defend his WBC featherweight belt against Jhonny Gonzalez.
[Note: Martinez-Burgos was a draw, meaning all who selected otherwise received a loss]
Photos by Gene Blevins, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org