Abner Mares: Mares suggested before his fight against Eric Morel on Friday in El Paso, Texas, that he should be given some pound-for-pound consideration. Then he demonstrated why. Mares (24-0-1, 13 knockouts) outclassed a still-capable former titleholder from beginning to end, both outworking and outboxing an excellent technician to win a near-shutout decision and the vacant WBC junior featherweight title. The Mexican-American never looked better. And consider the run he is on. Mares has faced in succession Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (twice) and Morel, a ridiculous gauntlet in this era. Mares went 4-0-1 in those fights and, in my opinion, was robbed in his draw with Perez. The likeable Southern California has earned the right to say he is one of the best fighters in the world. Could he beat Nonito Donaire or Anselmo Moreno? It’s more likely than you might think.
Eric Morel: The unfortunate thing for Morel (46-3, 23 KOs) is that his first opportunity to fight for a major title since he last wore a belt eight years ago came against the wrong opponent. The former Olympian and flyweight titleholder can still fight. As Mares said afterward, Morel appears to be a fresh 36 because he has taken relatively little punishment as a result of his considerable defensive skills and all-around ability. The problem on Saturday was that he was fighting Mares, who overwhelmed him with a lethal combination of aggression and skill that makes the Mexican-American one of the best fighters on the planet. The guess here is that Morel can regain a major title yet and remain relevant. He just needs to find the right opponent.
Anselmo Moreno: We shouldn’t make too much of Moreno’s ninth-round knockout of David De La Mora, who is a good fighter but nothing special. Still, the manner in which the boxing wizard from Panama dominated a legitimate challenger was striking. Most conspicuous was the WBA bantamweight titleholder’s defensive skills; De La Mora (24-2, 17 KOs) couldn’t lay a hand on him the entire fight. He clearly is one of the best defensive fighters in the world. That unusual ability combined with an effective blend of accurate head and body punches will make him difficult for anyone to beat even if he lacks knockout power. How great can he be? Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KOs) has victories over Wladimir Sidorenko (twice), Nehomar Cermeno (twice) and an aging Vic Darchinyan, which is impressive. Next up are the likes of Nonito Donaire or Abner Mares. Then we’ll know for sure.
Jermain Taylor: The former middleweight titleholder demonstrated that he still has ability in his unanimous-decision victory over Caleb Truax on Friday. Two things, though. One, we’re talking about Caleb Truax. Nothing against Truax, who has some ability, but he is the type of fighter we expect Taylor to dominate. And, two, the moment Taylor went down in the ninth round from a short right was too reminiscent of brutal knockout losses to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, after which he was diagnosed with a brain injury that kept him out of boxing for two years. Taylor was hurt badly by Truax but recovered to claim his victory. However, we shudder to think what might’ve happened if he had been fighting someone with the ability to finish the job. The truth is that doctors don’t have a handle on the dangers of returning from a brain injury. Taylor (30-4-1, 18 KOs) now seems to test fate every time he steps into the ring.
Cristian Mijares: Some of us wondered after Mijares was stopped by Darchinyan and then lost consecutive decisions to Cermeno whether the one-time Mexican star was finished as an elite fighter. Evidence suggests that he might not be. Mijares (45-6-2, 21 KOs) has won nine consecutive fights since that disastrous streak in 2008 and ’09, including a fourth-round knockout of Eddy Julio in a featherweight fight Saturday in Mexico. The momentum Mijares has established is in serious danger of coming to a sudden halt on July 14, however. That’s when he faces WBO junior featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire. Mijares is an excellent boxer and seems to be comfortable at a higher weight but this is about as big a test as one can face. If Mijares can pull this one off, he will have regained his place among the best in the business. If he can’t, no one will be surprised.
Abner Mares, on who he might fight next: “Let’s go one by one, baby. Any of them. I know I would give them a great fight. I always said I’m not afraid to lose. Let’s give the fans a great fight. Win or lose, let’s do it for the fans.”
Follow Michael Rosenthal on Twitter @MichalRosenthal