Abner Mares said referee Jack Reiss made a "great call" during his shocking first-round knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez that dethroned Mares as WBC featherweight beltholder last August.
Mares (26-1-1, 14 knockouts) reflected on his last fight during a recent conference call promoting his return to the ring against veteran Jonathan Oquendo (24-3, 16 KOs) on the Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard of the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on July 12.
"It's funny; I didn't even say this but I was blessed that the fight was stopped shortly. I was going to get up that second time," said Mares, who will be in his first fight under trainer Virgil Hunter against Oquendo.
"But the ref did make the great call and did not let me continue. Or else I think I would have done even more damage or even – who knows – I would have probably fought back against a lot of punches. But at the end of the day, I did take this fight because I know I'm ready mentally."
During an earlier interview with RingTV.com, however, Mares appeared to be in disagreement with Reiss' decision to stop the bout in which he was floored twice, the first time by a vicious left hook that dropped him to his back.
A badly hurt Mares rose as Reiss asked, "Are you okay?" Mares answered to the affirmative as Reiss stepped away and asked the fighter to "Walk to me," which Mares did.
Gonzalez was on Mares, yet again, however, landing two more left hands and a follow-up right along the ropes that dropped him for the second time. Reiss then placed his left hand on Mares' chest to prevent him from rising and ended the bout.
"When he said, 'That’s it,' I said, 'I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.' I was on my way. I think I told him, 'I’m getting up. I'm okay. I’ll fight.' He was like, 'Nah, son, you're done.' I was like, 'Okay,'" said Mares during the earlier interview.
"But it was the first round. I still remember everything. I still remembered getting up the first time and then being knocked down the second time. It was just part of the same thing. I was still hurt a little bit from being down the first time but, you know, again, I thought that I could have continued."
In advance of Oquendo, however, Mares insists that he be prepared after having been out of action for nearly a full year.
"I've gone through that stage and that's why I took this whole time, almost close to a year off, and I'm back," said Mares during the conference call.
"I always had that in my mind when I first signed a contract to be a professional fighter that there was going to be a loss. No matter what, this is a contact sport, it's a risky sport; anything can happen. I'm ready for anything."