On Feb. 15 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime, three-division titlewinner Abner Mares could get his requested rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez, against whom he suffered a shocking first-round knockout loss that dethroned him as WBC featherweight titleholder in August.
That is, if Gonzalez (55-8, 47 knockouts) honors the rematch clause of their first bout, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. With or without Gonzalez, Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs) will return on Feb. 15 at Staples Center.
Schaefer said he is also working on having the Mares card be supported by WBC junior featherweight beltholder Leo Santa Cruz, who will first have to get beyond his first defense on Dec. 14 against Cesar Seda. Another co-feature consideration is heavyweight Chris Arreola, who is coming off a first-round stoppage of Seth Mitchell in September.
Schaefer said Mares might still fight for his old 126-pound title if Gonzalez does not agree to fight him on Feb. 15.
“The thing is that with Abner Mares, he will be fighting for the WBC world title,” he said. “As you know, there was a rematch provision in his fight with Jhonny Gonzalez. And if Jhonny Gonzalez is not going to honor the rematch provision, then we have asked that the WBC strip Jhonny Gonzalez and to declare that the title is vacant against the next highest-ranked opponent, which is Robinson Castellanos.”
Ranked No. 2 behind Mares by the WBC, Castellanos owns a split-decision victory over ex-beltholder Celestino Caballero in April, and is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Derrick Wilson in September.
“Abner would be happy to fight Robinson Castellanos, although, of course, his first priority would be to get the remath with Jhonny Gonzalez. But it seems like Jhonny’s not interested or does not want to honor the rematch. Therefore, we have asked that the WBC strip Jhonny Gonzalez. We have put the relevant parties on notice,” said Schaefer.
“I don’t know if that’s Jhonny or his promoter, but we didn’t have to do that fight against Jhonny Gonzalez, but we did it, and we have a rematch option, as is common in boxing, and those terms were agreed upon. Now, they don’t want to honor them. That’s not going to fly. If that happens, then rematch options become worthless, and you’re not going to have the best fighting the best.”
Mares is ready.
“It’s not confirmed yet, but that’s what it looks like. Yes sir. I feel excited, and I can’t wait for this fight to come through. I’m more than ready, I’m excited to showcase myself in the fight that people didn’t see. Now, I think that I’m over that last fight,” said Mares.
“I just really want to fight this guy, because I know that I can beat him. I want to prove to people that it was just not my night that night. I know that I have other fighters that I could face, and different options that I could take, and people are saying that I shouldn’t take this fight, but I just want to prove myself to everyone.”
A 27-year-old who entered the Gonzalez bout as THE RING’s No. 5-rated pound-for-pound fighter, Mares was floored twice by Mexican veteran during the first defense of the belt he won in his 126-pound debut, a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon.
Ponce de Leon was the last man to defeat Gonzalez in an eighth-round technical decision in September of 2012, that ended Gonzalez’s 12-fight winning streak which included 11 knockouts.
Photo / Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org