MEET THE FIGHTERS
Height: 5-5 (165cm) / 68 (173)
Hometown: Norwalk, Calif. (born in Guadalajara, Mexico)
Turned pro: 1995
Record: 22-0-1 (13 knockouts)
Trainer: Clemente Medina
Fight-by-fight: Click here.
The Ring rating: No. 3 bantamweight
Biggest victories: Vic Darchinyan, Dec. 11, 2010, SD 12 (Showtime tournament semifinal); Joseph Agbeko, Aug. 13, 2011, MD 12 (Showtime tournament final; for Agbeko’s IBF title)
Draw: Yonnhy Perez, May 22, 2010, Draw 12 (for Perez’s IBF title)
Biography: Mares is a complete boxer-puncher, one who can win fights in a number of ways, and has proved in his young career that he also has a fighter’s heart.
The bantamweight contender was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He reportedly had a record of 112-8 in a decorated amateur career and competed in the 2004 Olympics, fighting for his native country. He lost a controversial decision to Zsolt Bedak in the first round in the Games.
Mares turned pro in 2005 and cruised to a 17-0 record by 2008, earning an opportunity to fight for the title held by Gerry Penalosa. Then came trouble. Mares was diagnosed with a detached retina as he was preparing for his first title shot and had to pull out.
He initially was told by doctors that his career was over, a devastating pronouncement. He actually worked as a security guard for short time afterward. On top of that, he split with respect trainer Nacho Beristain because of a fued between Beristain and Mares’ manager .
Mares was able to overcome both setbacks, though. Surgery on his eye was successful, which allowed him to resume his career less than a year after his most-recent fight. He also moved on from Beristain, working first with Joel Diaz and then former trainer Clemente Medina, who guided him during the first year of his pro career.
And he went back to his winning ways. He stopped three consecutive opponents to earn a shot at friend Yonnhy Perez’s IBF bantamweight title on May 22, 2010. Many observers thought Mares did enough to win a give-and-take fight but he had to settle for a majority draw, another major disappointment.
Mares wouldn’t have to wait long for a chance to redeem himself, though. He agreed to take part in Showtime’s four-man bantamweight tournament, which ensured two fights against elite opponents.
In his first tournament fight, against Vic Darchinyan, he was knocked down in the second round and lost a point in the fourth but rallied to take a majority decision and earn a shot at the winner of the Perez-Joseph Agbeko semifinal, which turned out to be Agbeko.
Mares’ challenge to the Ghanaian warrior on Aug. 13 in Las Vegas was every bit the hotly contested championship showdown that fans and media expected but the 12-round see-saw battle, which Mares won by majority decision, was also marred by controversy. Mares, who lifted Agbeko’s IBF title with the victory, landed at least a dozen low blows without being penalized by referee Russell Mora.
Mares’ most egregious below-the-belt shot landed in the 11th round. Mora not only missed the foul but counted Agbeko’s agonizing fall to the canvas as a knockdown. The horrible call outraged Showtime’s commentators and hardcore fans everywhere, which is why the IBF mandated a rematch.
To his credit, Mares agreed that second bout needed to be made in order to put questions about his character and ability to rest. The two will meet again on Dec. 3 in Anaheim Calif., where Mares intends to show a hometown crowd that he’s earned the right to call himself “champion.”