The fight between Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares in the final of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament Saturday in Las Vegas could lead to a showdown with Nonito Donaire for THE RING championship.
Agbeko and Mares are rated Nos. 3 and 4 by THE RING, behind No. 1 Nonito Donaire and No. 2 Anselmo Moreno.
A particularly impressive victory by either Agbeko or Mares could vault the winner past Moreno into the No. 2 position, which would set up a marketable fight with Donaire that would fill a championship vacancy.
This is tricky given Moreno’s resume. The Panamanian won the WBA 118-pound title in 2008 and has successfully defended eight times, including an eighth-round TKO over Lorenzo Parra on June 17.
However, good fighters have been leap-frogged before.
Andre Ward supplanted Lucian Bute Manny Pacquiao supplanted Floyd Mayweather Jr. atop the welterweight ratings when he thrashed Antonio Margarito in a junior middleweight fight in November. And Tim Bradley lost his No. 1 rating among junior welterweights to Amir Khan after Khan stopped Zab Judah last month.
And Moreno (31-1-1, 11 KOs) might have a few things working against him. He hadn’t fought for 10 months going into the Parra fight. And while Parra is a former flyweight titleholder, he is only a solid bantamweight, although his draw with Jorge Arce in September was impressive.
Moreno also doesn’t have great name recognition, which means that Donaire probably will be reluctant to fight him when the winner of Agbeko-Mares could generation more interest and money.
One thing Moreno does have going for him now is the backing of new promoter Golden Boy, which will get the Venezuelan big fights.
Still, a dominating performance from either Agbeko or Mares – perhaps a spectacular knockout – could shake up THE RING bantamweight ratings. A close fight would probably mean that Moreno is secure at No. 2.