Abner Mares has announced that he will vacate his WBC junior featherweight belt in order to fight as a featherweight, a development which comes after his failure to secure a unification bout with RING 122-pound champion Nonito Donaire, Mares’ manager Frank Espinoza confirmed on Thursday.
“We vacated the title because we want to start challenging at 126,” said Espinoza. “Abner’s dream has always been to be a three-time world champion, so this seems like a really good time to move up and to fulfill his dream.”
The story was initially reported by BoxingScene.com.
On Friday, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer issued a contract on behalf of Mares (25-0-1, 13 knockouts) offering rival Top Rank $3 million for the services of Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs), who, along with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, said that the terms of the offer were not to their satisfaction.
Schaefer’s 13-page offer was sent to Top Rank lawyer David Marroso, a senior attorney with the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm, and would make Golden Boy the lead promoter “in association with Top Rank” with no options on Donaire.
“Right now, what we want to do is probably come back in April and sit down with Golden Boy and see what they have available. We’ll get Abner a tuneup fight, and then see how he feels at that weight division,” said Ezpinoza.
“From there, we’ll discuss it with Abner and then maybe take one or two fights at that weight before he really thinks about challenging (for a 126-pound title). We want to see how he feels first, and then look for his first title fight.”
Meanwhile, Donaire, who is coming off third-round knockout of Mexican veteran Jorge Arce in December, wants to return to an HBO-televised clash on April 13 against either WBA 122-pound beltholder Guillermo Rigondeaux or former two-division beltholder Vic Darchinyan.
Mares called out Donaire after his November unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs), who was dropped during the fifth round of a loss that ended his 27-bout winning streak that had included 10 knockouts.
Over a more than a 20-month span as a bantamweight through December of 2011, Mares twice defeated ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April to earn the WBC’s belt that had been vacated by Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka.
“Abner accomplished all of his dreams at 118, and he’s accomplished all of his dreams at 122,” said Espinoza. “Now, he wants to venture into and entertain the 126-pound division, and become a three-time world champion. It’s one of the dreams and the goals that he’s always had.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org