One of boxing’s young stars was dealt his first taste of defeat on Saturday, as Abner Mares was shockingly knocked out by veteran Jhonny Gonzalez in the first round at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif. The bout headlined a Showtime telecast that also featured Leo Santa Cruz add another title to his name when he beat up Victor Terrazas before stopping him in the third.
After the fight, Gonzalez and Mares appeared at the post-fight press conference and showed their class. Here are some of the details from that as well as Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer discussing a few future points for his company.
Mares shows class in defeat
It’s always tough for a young fighter when he faces defeat for the first time. It’s even tougher when the fight is over before it ever really began. Yet Abner Mares showed his class in addressing all of the media’s questions after his tough one round loss to Jhonny Gonzalez, including future plans.
Mares made it clear he wasn’t looking for an easy win next time out.
“I’ll fight him (Jhonny), I’ll fight Leo, I’ll fight anyone, you guys know me,” said Mares to the media at the post-fight press conference.
“I’m just here to fight. I’m not here just to take it easy because I lost or got knocked out. I’m here to fight the good fights, and to fight this fight. Losing, it’s a learning experience, and I’ve got to learn from it.”
Since emerging on the world title scene a little more than three years ago, Mares has quite clearly fought the toughest stretch of opposition. He was bound to suffer a setback eventually. A 6-1-1 record against the likes of Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko twice, Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno, Daniel Ponce De Leon, and now Gonzalez is nothing to sneeze at. There are fighters who don’t fight a stretch that tough over the course of an entire career.
Mares made it clear that he was ready for a rest and vacation, something he has definitely earned.
Gonzalez rejuvenates career again
Saturday marked another occasion where veteran Jhonny Gonzalez was counted out by all the experts and proved them wrong.
The opening lyrics to ’90s grunge band Alice in Chains’ song “Rooster” applies to the Mexican. “Ain’t found a way to kill me yet…”
Whenever it has seemed that Gonzalez was on his way out or at the end of his career, he’s produced brilliance. Two years ago it was stopping Hozumi Hasegawa in four rounds to earn a featherweight strap, now Gonzalez is again back at the top when it seemed his career was winding down.
Two fights ago, Gonzalez struggled against journeyman Eusebio Osejo in Mexico. Gonzalez was down in the third round and looked like a faded fighter.
At the press conference after the fight, Gonzalez clarified the vast difference in his performance against Osejo earlier this year and his magnificent win against Mares on Saturday.
“I had some personal problems and they are behind me, and sometimes you guys in the media, you don’t know what we go through,” said Gonzalez through Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez, who interpreted.
Gonzalez is that veteran fighter that can’t be counted out and almost always puts on a good show. His vaunted power and equal fragility makes him must-see TV.
GBP plans for Gonzalez, Russell Jr.?
Gomez indicated there was a rematch clause for the fight between Mares and Gonzalez, but it is unclear whether it will be used.
Richard Schaefer indicated that Golden Boy has three controlling options on Gonzalez and has an idea of where to go if Mares isn’t ready.
“I have the perfect opponent,” said Schaefer after the post-fight press conference ended.
“Big fight: Gary Russell Jr. He’s ready. Gary Russell wants a big fight, that’s a big fight. I would love to make that fight, maybe November or December. We’ll see when Jhonny wants to fight; we’ll talk to his promoter.
“We have three controlling options, so that’s one fight we’d like to do,” continued Schaefer. “But if Abner comes and says let’s go straight to a rematch, then we’re gonna do that. Then you have Leo there too, so there’s some interesting possibilities.”
One featherweight Golden Boy once had a working relationship was WBA titlist Chris John, who has fought mostly modest opposition in Indonesia in recent years. Schaefer made it clear he isn’t a likely option.
“Chris John just really wants to fight in Indonesia,” said Schaefer about THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight.
“We’ve tried (to makes fights in the U.S.) so many times and it just doesn’t seem like it is of interest to him.”
Broner-Maidana, Broner’s antics
One fight that has been discussed heavily for November is between welterweight titlist Adrien Broner and Argentine power puncher Marcos Maidana, a fight that could be Broner’s first time as a pay-per-view attraction.
“I’m working on it,” said Schaefer. “We’re trying to find the right spot, the right date, the right total card, so I’m working on a bunch of different fights. I’m working on finalizing Nov. 2, Nov. 9, and Dec. 7.”
Another thing Schaefer discussed were the recent antics of Broner, of which there are many. Schaefer seemed indifferent to the idea his behavior outside the ring could sidetrack his progression inside of it.
Schaefer spoke largely of Broner being the best self-promoter behind Floyd Mayweather, though he admitted the two have completely different tactics. Broner relies on shock value whereas Mayweather isn’t as brash as his young counterpart.
“I get a lot of emails, calls from people who really can’t stand what he is doing, the way he is acting and behaving,” said Schaefer.
“Then we also get a lot of calls from people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we just love him.’ There’s finally somebody who isn’t afraid to talk s__t, literally, so he just evokes these emotions.”
No clue if Schaefer’s “talk s__t, literally” is a reference to Broner’s videotaping himself flushing money down a toilet stunt or not. But it is easy to see that Broner doesn’t really have a guiding force looking to keep him out of trouble.
“He knows best and so far, he talks the talk and he walks the walk,” said Schaefer, which basically boils down to the idea that as long as he performs inside the ring, nobody is going to get in the way of him making a fool of himself, or worse, boxing.
“I am not like his parent or whatever,” continued Schaefer. “I can advise him, I can give him tips, but ultimately, fighters are adults and they say what they want to say and do what they want to do. It is those people who can evoke those kinds of emotions that become pay-per-view stars.”
This writer brought up the opinion that if Broner were in the NFL or a similar type of sport with more infrastructure, he would have been suspended for some of the stunts he’s pulled. Schaefer sidestepped the thought by saying there was a lot the NFL does that is good and a lot that they do that isn’t so good.
“Let’s not go and say how great the NFL is and how bad boxing is, because I think every sport has its ups and downs,” he said.
Schaefer talked a bit about Broner being a pay-per-view headliner this early in his career and how that card would shape up.
“I think it is probably a lower price pay-per-view and I do believe in delivering a great meal and not just a great main course,” said Schaefer.
“When you go to a restaurant and you order an appetizer, and you have a s__t appetizer, it spoils your appetite. Then you go, ‘Oh f___, I’m never gonna go back to this restaurant.’ It’s the same thing in boxing, when you have people pay the pay-per-view price, they want to see great fights.”
Guerrero turned down Thurman, Soto Karass may be interested
Schaefer was asked about the discussed fight between welterweights Robert Guerrero and Keith Thurman, which was looking like it could take place before the year was over.
“Guerrero turned it down,” said Schaefer.
One name instead being discussed for Thurman is Jesus Soto Karass, who is coming off a career best win over Andre Berto on the same card Thurman stopped Diego Chaves last month in San Antonio.
“Jesus Soto Karass is a guy who is very confident, has obviously had some great wins, ever since leaving Top Rank and joined Golden Boy,” Schaefer said. “He has become a hot commodity again. He’d be happy to fight Keith Thurman and Keith Thurman would be happy to fight him. Imagine that fight if it in fact happens. I can assure you, that is another Fight of the Year candidate.”
Hatton Promotions blew Quillin fight for Murray
One fighter still without an opponent is WBO middleweight titleholder Peter Quillin, who is slated for the Oct. 26 undercard of Bernard Hopkins against Karo Murat. Schaefer addressed Quillin’s predicament.
“One fighter we had in mind for that fight was Martin Murray,” said Schaefer.
“These people he is with, the Hattons, are impossible to deal with. Ricky Hatton is a great friend of mine, I’m a big fan of his, but the CEO he has is an idiot, this guy Richard Poxon. He just doesn’t know what he is doing.”
“Unfortunately, we wanted to give one of the Hatton fighters, Martin Murray an opportunity. We said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do Quillin and Murray, and Quillin comes to England, no problem? Quillin comes to England and we do the fight from England.’ But again, unfortunately Martin Murray has a promoter who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.”
At one point in time, Scott Quigg was being discussed as someone Golden Boy was interested in, when Quigg was still with Hatton. That never came to fruition, probably due to this inability to work together.
“Exactly,” said Schaefer. “When you don’t have the right promoter, that guy can really f___ up your career. Here you have Martin Murray coming off an excellent fight, and a champion Peter Quillin willing to come over for the fight, and your promoter finds a way for it not to happen.”
Figueroa the next big Texas star?
Emerging young lightweight Omar Figueroa has quickly become a fan favorite. Last month, Figueroa picked up an interim title. That isn’t important. What is important was that his fight with the largely unknown Nihito Arakawa stole the show in San Antonio and was a fringe Fight of the Year contender.
Figueroa sold a ton of tickets for that fight and is being developed into being perhaps the next big boxing star in the state of Texas.
Richard Schaefer believes Figueroa will be full WBC champ when Adrien Broner decides not to go back to 135 pounds.
“When that happens, maybe we have Figueroa fighting Juan Diaz,” said Schaefer. “That is a possibility, that would be a big Texas showdown.”
Diaz recently fought on a Top Rank card as he continues his comeback, but has no long term contract with any promoter.
Wilder ready for title shot?
Perhaps the boldest claim Schaefer made Saturday night after the post-fight press conference was that 2008 Olympic bronze medalist American heavyweight Deontay Wilder could be ready for a title shot.
“We keep putting him in deeper water and he keeps on performing the same way, knocking people out,” said Schaefer.
“Deontay is ready to fight for a world title, and that’s what we are going to try and get.”
Wilder still has a ways to go and needs a stiff test before even thinking about taking on a Klitschko. What could work out favorably is that Alexander Povetkin faces Wladimir Klitschko and would lose his WBA regular title. Though it isn’t considered a real belt by most, perhaps Golden Boy could position him to win that belt when it becomes vacant.
Photo / Harry How-Golden Boy