Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum was impressed by Saturday night’s Showtime-televised performance by Abner Mares, who won virtually every round of a good scrap against veteran ex-beltholder, Eric Morel, for the WBC’s junior featherweight crown.
Many are calling it the performance of the career for Mares, a 26-year-old who fought bell-to-bell to in rising to 24-0-1 with 13 knockouts.
“He looked great,” said Arum. “I think he’s a very, very good fighter.”
But could a unification bout be made featuring Mares, who is handled by rival promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, and RING No. 4-rated pound-for-pound fighter, Nonito Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs), who wears the WBO’s junior featherweight belt?
“Yeah,” said Arum, who promotes the 29-year-old Donaire. “But just because Mares calls out a guy who is at the top of the line, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen right away. There’s a waiting list.”
Like Mares, Donaire rose from the bantamweight ranks to earn a split-decision over ex-beltholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the WBO’s vacant belt in February, capturing his third crown over as many weight divisions.
Should Donaire get beyond Mijares or Methebula, he will pursue a clash with WBO bantamweight titleholder, Jorge Arce, who is slated for a defense of his crown opposite Jesus M. Rojas on June 9.
In vanquishing Vazquez, Donaire won the 122-pound belt that had been vacated by Arce, who took the crown from Vazquez by 12th-round stoppage last May before dropping down to earn the WBO’s bantamweight belt with a unanimous decision over Angky Angkota last November.
“Donaire is going to fight either Mijares or Mathebula, and if he’s successful and Arce is successful, he’s going to fight Arce. Those are his only commitments,” said Arum.
“And then there’s no reason why a Mares fight can’t happen. But he’s not going to have that as next fight because that’s not fair to the guys who are waiting in line.”
MARES IS BATTLE-TESTED
Mares has fought 60 straight championship rounds over five consecutive title bouts, posting a mark of 4-0-1 over more than a 20-month span through December of last year.
“Abner is without doubt one of the best pound for pound fighters. We will see in the coming weeks what is next for Abner,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “It was a terrfic fight, and it was a tremenous victory, and as I said, Abner Mares is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.”
Another rival that has been mentioned for Mares is WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KOs), whose ninth-round knockout of David De La Mora was on the Mares-Morel undercard.
“It’s a matter of getting together with the team, talking to Mares’ management, Frank Espinoza, and the kid, but me, personally, I think that he could use a little bit of a break because it’s been tough fight after tough fight after tough fight,” said Eric Gomez, matchmaker with Golden Boy Promotions.
“You look at what this kid has done compared to anybody else out there, and it’s incredible. You’ve got to really consider him as one of the best in the sport, pound-for-pound. He’s still young at 26, and in his prime right now, and we want him to be able to fight until he’s at least 30 years old. So I think that he needs a nice little break, and then, we can see what other possibilities are out there for him.”
Arum wouldn’t not hold it against Mares if he were to take time off.
“That’s up to Mares. He does what he has to do,” said Arum. “But he’s a good fighter. Hopefully, down the road, a fight with Donaire can happen.”
ARUM SAYS JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR. WILL FIGHT SERGIO MARTINEZ IF HE BEATS ANDY LEE
RING champion Sergio Martinez has signed a contract that is meant to guarantee him a Sept. 15 fight against the winner of a June 16 title bout featuring WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and southpaw Andy Lee.
Arum said Chavez has not yet done so, but that he intends to after getting beyond Lee.
“Chavez is fighting Lee, and if Chavez beats Lee, then our intentions to fight Martinez next,” said Arum of Chavez (45-0-1, 31 KOs), who successfully defended his title by unanimous decision over Marco Antonio Rubio in February.
“Once this fight is over with Lee, then we’ll sit with Chavez and talk about Martinez. But all things will happen in due course.”
In a clash that will take place at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, Chavez will meet the Detroit-based Lee (28-1, 20 KOs), a winner of his past 13 fights, eight of them by knockout since himself being stopped by Bryan Vera in the seventh round in March of 2008.
Promoted by Lou DiBella, as is Martinez, Lee avenged his loss to Vera following a 10-round unanimous decision in October, and is coming off last month’s second-round stoppage of Saul Duran.
“I already have a deal worked out with Lou, which is a 60-40 deal,” said Arum. “I still have to obviously get some understanding of a guarantee with Chavez, but I’m not going to bother Chavez until after his fight is over with Lee.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org