RING No. 5-rated pound-for-pound Abner Mares shared his thoughts on his upcoming WBC featherweight title defense against former beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez on Aug. 24 at The StubHub Center (formerly The Home Depot Center) in Carson, Calif.
Ponce de Leon had taken the title from Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) with an eight-round technical decision last September, ending a 12-fight winning streak.
Mares, 27, said, among other things, that he respects the power generated by Gonzalez, 31, who has since rebounded with consecutive wins over Eusebio Osejo and Akihiko Katagiri.
Mares was asked to compare Gonzalez to the string of elite boxers he has fought, having twice beaten ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a decision over former beltholder Vic Darchinyan, and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez as a bantamweight before moving up to junior featherweight.
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 to earn the WBC’s belt.
In November of last year, Mares scored a unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno, who rose in weight to challenge for the junior featherweight belt. Mares dropped the Panamanian in the fifth round and ended his winning streak at 27.
Mares spoke from his training camp in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., with coach Clemente Medina and strength guru Luis Garcia:
RingTV.com: So how are you doing this morning?
Abner Mares: I’m awake. I’m about to go about my day. I’m about to go to the gym in about 45 minutes. We’ve got exactly 10 weeks to prepare.
We’ve been here doing it for about five or six weeks already. I’m out here in Santa Fe Springs, with my coach, Clemente Medina, and, my strength coach Luis Garcia.
RingTV.com: Do you see anything about your fight with Ponce de Leon and his with Ponce de Leon that can help you?
AM: Well, I have to approach him completley differently. The thing is that my style and Ponce’s are way different. I think what caught Jhonny by surprise in the Ponce fight was Ponce’s style itself.
Ponce’s style is very awkward in the way that he was throwing his punches. I mean, I could try and throw wild punches like Ponce.
But I would just expose myself to getting hit in between by shots that Jhonny throws. So, I definitely have to approach him differently, and I will definitely approach him differently.
We have game plan already, as we always do. We have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C, just in case one or the other don’t work.
RingTV.com: How do you rank Gonzalez in comparison to the others that you have fought?
AM: Without ranking them, I would definitely say that he is one of the most difficult fighters that I will be facing, because, if you look at his record, he’s definitely a power puncher.
I mean, he’s got close to 60 fights, and he’s got close to 50 knockouts, so he’s a very heavy hitter. So I’ve got to be careful with these kinds of fights and these kinds of fighters.
You can be winning a fight, and then, you can get caught. Just like the John Molina and Mickey Bey. Bey was winning the fight, but if you get caught with one of those crazy punches, it’s night-night for you.
So I’ve got to be respectful of him and fight smart, because of his experience and his knowledge in boxing. He’s been in the game for a long time, and he’s been a champion. So, it’s definitely another tough fight for myself.
Photo by Al Bello, Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org