(Photo © SHOWTIME)
While many of us as boxing fans love to count down the days leading up to the next big fight, there are still high numbers of the boxing faithful who truly appreciate the fighter who treads on and on. Those fighters who have fought almost a “who’s who” in the ring can often rouse our interests. He has won most and lost just a handful. Add to the mix one who hails from a boxing crazed nation such as Mexico.
Enter Jhonny Gonzalez (54(46)-8(3)) of Mexico City, who is a former featherweight champion. He suffered two early losses in his career and the remainder of his defeats over the past ten years was handed to him via Daniel Ponce de Leon, Israel Vazquez, Toshiaki Nishioka and Gerry Penalosa. He reigned as the titleholder from April 2011 when he knocked out the always formidable and multiple division champ, Hozumi Hasegawa. His time at the top ended when he suffered an eighth round TKO to the aforementioned Ponce de Leon last September in Las Vegas. He was behind on the scorecards at the time, although an accidental head butt later in the bout sealed his fate. The WBC featherweight title has changed hands since then, as recently as this past May.
Enter now the undefeated Abner Mares (26(14)-0-1) of East Los Angeles by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Mares can found on many pound for pound lists in the boxing world. The unbeaten, multiple division champion holds to his credit impressive wins over such fighters as Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko and Anselmo Moreno. His one sided victory over Daniel Ponce de Leon last May (TKO 9) gave the 2004 Athens Olympian (representing Mexico) the WBC strap and there can be no confusion that Jhonny Gonzalez wants his title back. He’ll get his chance next Saturday night, August 24. The championship bout will take place at the StubHub Center in Carson, California and will be televised on “Showtime Championship Boxing” in the United States.
Both gentlemen as well as their affiliated camps spoke to the media this afternoon. Selected highlights are listed below.
Richard Schaefer, CEO Golden Boy Promotions: “Fists will fly and there will be heavy action. This is exactly the type of matchup that we like to bring to the fight fans. Jhonny Gonzalez doesn’t need an introduction and his record of 54-8 speaks for itself. He will want to win his title again and he’s an amazing warrior. Abner Mares. Whoever you put in front of him, he beats. He’s clearly one of the most exciting fighters in the sport. He’s the type of fighter who you know will be an all action type of fighter. He’s not taking any kind of breather here since his win over Daniel Ponce de Leon. He’ll be facing the always dangerous Jhonny Gonzalez.”
“Abner Mares should be, in my opinion in the #2 spot on the pound for pound list. There is no question just who is #1. As for #2, Andre Ward is there right now but compare what he’s done lately to what Abner has done.”
Jhonny Gonzalez: “What can I say? The moment is near and the fight is close.”
Abner Mares: “I’m ready to give everyone another exciting fight. I’m blessed and I can’t wait. It should be a magnificent night for the sport of boxing.”
Mares on power, making weight, etc.: “I’m moving up in weight and this is my second fight in this weight class. I’ve gained muscle and I’m no longer struggling to make weight. I feel strong physically and mentally.”
Mares on his previous experiences sparring with Gonzalez: “I expect the best Jhonny Gonzalez. I know he’ll bring his “A Game”. That was a long time ago and I learned a lot through the work we did together.”
Gonzalez on expectations: “I have trained so very hard for this fight. Abner is the best featherweight on the planet and I know that I’ll have to bring everything to win.”
On possible retirement: “At the moment, this is the most important fight of my career. My body still feels great and I’m responding to the training. I look forward to this fight and then I’d like to move up to another division.”
Mares on his fighting record: “They all have happened at the right time and I’ve learned from every fight. I’ve gained much experience and I’ve not been beaten up.”
Gonzalez on losing his title to Daniel Ponce de Leon: “It wasn’t frustrating at all. Although I was ready physically, I wasn’t mentally prepared because I had some outside issues. The head butt broke my concentration even more and so I learned not to let those types of issues affect me in the ring again.”
On Mares: “He is the best fighter at 126 pounds. We know that if I win, then we can beat them all. Everyone is expecting a great fight and that’s what we’ll give them.”
Abner on being motivated: “There’s no pressure at all because I always train the same way. I have the same hunger and desire each time I go to the ring. I’ve proved by fighting all these tough opponents that I’m at the top of my game and one of the best. I have to beat Jhonny. I can’t lose. He’s a great puncher and an experienced fighter.”
“There’s always room for improvement and learning more. I have to get better and show a different Abner Mares.”
Closing statements from Abner Mares: “Come August 24, everyone will see a tremendous fight and the boxing world wins. I want to prove once again that I’m one of the elites.
Closing statements from Jhonny Gonzalez: “Thanks to Abner Mares for this opportunity. This fight will be a great one and have all the characteristics of Mexican fighters.”