LOS ANGELES-Abner Mares asked for a tune up before his world title fight in a few months and Colombia’s Felipe Almanza was the test tube for a bashing on Thursday.
A crowd of more than 1,500 saw Mares (20-0 13 KOs) polish up his boxing skills against veteran fighter Almanza (19-16-3, 9 KOs) and win impressively by knockout. Now he’s ready for his IBF world title bout against friend and champion Yonnhy Perez on May 22 at Staples Center.
From the opening bell Mares immediately stepped into attack mode but was cautious about colliding heads. His corner and team also yelled out “watch your head” every time the two fights got close to each other.
The second round was a repeat of the first but Almanza fired more blows including some wild overhand rights that did not connect. Mares landed several body blows.
In the third round Mares took more chances a A left uppercut by Mares as Almanza bent low dropped him for a knockdown. The Colombian protested the knockdown and then delivered five low blows to Mares thigh. Referee Raul Caiz gave him two warnings.
A left uppercut by Mares as Almanza bent low dropped him for a knockdown. The Colombian protested the knockdown and then delivered five low blows to Mares thigh. Referee Raul Caiz gave him two warnings.
The Colombian began punching Mares thighs repeatedly despite warnings by the referee. That didn’t seem to impress Almanza.
“He tried to play dirty, but I didn’t let get to my head,” said Mares who admitted the blows hurt his leg. “My adrenaline started pumping and I wanted to knock him out. Eventually it worked.”
Mares cornered Almanza in the fifth round and put more pressure including two slicing uppercuts that crumbled the sturdy Colombian at 2:23 of the round forcing referee Raul Caiz to halt the fight.
“I saw that he was leaning with his head and there was an opening for an uppercut. The plan was to lean back and catch him with that sneaky uppercut,” Mares said about the final blows. “After he was knocked down I thought we’re gong for the championship against Yonnhy Perez.”
Joel Diaz, who is now training Mares after the fighter decided to move back to California from Mexico City, said his fighter was just a tad tight.
“This kid was a little awkward but it was a matter of time. I realized he wanted to release more punches in the beginning. But he stopped chasing him around cut the corners. A little work with him and work with the body. The time was going to come,” said Diaz who also trains Vicente Escobedo, Timothy Bradley and the Diaz brothers.
Mares got his tune up.
“A lot of people thought it was the wrong fight,” said Mares who emerged without injury.
“The crowd feels great today. A lot of fans and friends came over to support me. I felt a little bit of rust in my timing. Like any fight you got to figure out the opponent. I got those combinations going and now I feel even more ready for Yonnhy,” said Mares who is eager for this first world title opportunity. “Defense was there I didn’t get hit much. Offense I felt a little bit tight. I wanted to knock him out and let my hands go. We got those rounds so I’m ready.”
Ronny Rios (10-0, 5 KOs) stopped Andres Ledesma (15-17-1, 10 KOs) with a whipping left hook to the body in fifth for an impressive knockout win.
A right hand to the head staggered Ledesma who turned his back, but Rios backed off not wanting to hit the fighter if he was surrendering. He wasn’t. Rios then stepped into full attack mode and finally pinned the Colombian against the topes and teed off with blow after a blow. A perfect left hook to the ribs dropped Ledesma for good at 1:45 of the fifth round in a featherweight bout.
Rios began the fight with medium pressure for the first three rounds but some telling blows on Ledesma prompted the Santa Ana fighter to increase the pressure even more.
“He had age on me. I looked at his body and I thought I’m going to have a run for my money. My game plan was to move and jab and worked my body shots. I knew he was a counter puncher,” said Rios who feels comfortable fighting at 126 pounds.
In the fifth round Rios found an opening for a left hook and dropped it on Ledesma’s ribs and down he went for good.
“You don’t make the KOs, they just happen,” said Rios. “I was trying to go more for the head. He had his guard up but that was a perfect time for the body shot…I knew sooner or later.”
Derrick Wilson (5-1-2) returned to the scene of his upset win but was refused this time by Amarillo, Texan Adam Ochoa (2-1-1) in a four round junior featherweight contest. Wilson had previously been denied by a Texan in his last fight and once again Texas put the stop on a Wilson win. The big punching Floridian just couldn’t crack Ochoa’s sturdy jaw and allowed him to snap his head back a few times in the final round. Bad idea. Two judges scored it 38-38 twice and one judge saw it 39-37 for Wilson.
Ukrainian cruiserweight Anatoliy Dudchenko (8-2, 6 KOs) dropped a right hand over Harley Kilfian’s (8-5) taciturn left jab and knocked out the Wisconsin boxer at 1:08 of the first round.
The usually resilient Danny Z (8-18-4) just couldn’t stand up to the hard punches of Michigan’s Dion Savage (7-0, 5 KOs) in a light heavyweight bout. At 2:53 of the first round after two knockdowns the referee stopped the fight in favor of Savage.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?