Alone in the desert area Abner Mares pummels the speed bag, pummels the heavy bag and pummels sparring partners relentlessly.

It’s work that few see.

The number one bantamweight contender has a date with boxing destiny for a world title but first wants a technical check up against Colombia’s road hardened Felipe Almanza (17-15-4) at Club Nokia on Thursday night. It will be shown on Fox.

“It was my decision alone not my team’s to take this fight,” said Mares (19-0, 12 KOs), who has a date to fight for the IBF bantamweight title against Yonnhy Perez at Staples Center on May 22. “I need the work.”

Mares switched camps from Mexico City to Indio, California on the advice of his father. The powerful 118-pounder is now mentored by trainer Joel Diaz who also has another Mexico City refugee in Vicente Escobedo. Both fighters previously worked with Nacho Beristain in Mexico City.

“Things are going good here,” said Mares.

On one recent training day a sparring session between Mares and a stable mate ended abruptly when a lightning fast right cross dropped the partner in a heap. It looked like the sparring session would end but watching the proceedings was WBO junior welterweight titleholder Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley.

“Hey do you need me to work with him,” said Bradley to Joel Diaz who nodded to put on the gloves.

The Indio boxing gym is loaded with elite veteran fighters like Bradley.

For several rounds Mares and Bradley fired leather at each other. The bigger Bradley took steam out of his punches but crowded the smaller Mares forcing him to look for solutions. It was like watching a big tornado and a small tornado hammer it out.

“It’s great when you can spar a champion like Tim Bradley,” said Mares, who never got to work with Rafael Marquez when he was in Beristain’s Mexico City gym. “You can learn a lot from a guy like that.”

Mares wants all the work he can get to refine his reflexes, instincts and technique.

“I need to be sharp,” said Mares who expects a rough fight against Almanza who has not lost a fight in seven bouts. “He has two DQ’s (disqualifications) so I have to look out for that.”

Should he beat Almanza he has even bigger concerns against another Colombian named Yonnhy Perez the wearer of the IBF bantamweight world title on May 22.

“Yonnhy is a very good fighter,” said Mares who took part in a recent press conference in Los Angeles last week. “That’s all I’m going to say right now.”


Also on the Club Nokia fight card is Orange County’s Ronny Rios (9-0). The 20-year-old featherweight boxer proved he’s ready for the next rung of opponent when he beat Las Vegas prizefighter Willshaun Boxley. The six round bout showed that Rios could figure out what worked and build on that. It was an impressive showing for such a young fighter.

No opponent had been set at press time.

In a welterweight clash East L.A.’s Aaron Martinez (11-1-1) rumbles against Las Vegas rumbler Juan Montes De Oca (9-18-2). Forget De Oca’s record. The Mexican born fighter is the guy who dropped Floyd Mayweather during a sparring session and hurt his ribs. He never fights easy guys and always punches. It should be a blast for those watching the fight.

Fights on television

Thurs. Fox, 8 p.m., Abner Mares (19-0) vs. Felipe Almanza (17-15-4).

Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Mike Mollo (19-3) vs. Billy Zumbrun (23-11-1).

Sat. Fox, 7 p.m., Ulises Solis (29-2-2) vs. Bert Batawang (45-14-3).

Sat. HBO, 7:30 p.m., Marcos Maidana (27-1) vs. Victor Cayo (24-0).

Sat. Showtime, 10:30 p.m., Arthur Abraham (31-0) vs. Andre Dirrell (18-1).