Mini-bombers Abner Mares and Eric Morel are tangling at a higher weight class than expected.
Mexico’s undefeated Mares (23-0-1, 13 KOs) and Puerto Rico’s Morel (46-2, 23 KOs) are looking to grab another world title in a second weight class on Saturday, April 21. The junior featherweight title match takes place in El Paso, Texas.
As a bantamweight Mares proved to be tougher than expected and though he fought then bantamweight champion Yonnhy Perez to a draw, it was evident that the California resident had moxie and talent. Many felt he won that fight.
Then he fought the great Vic Darchinyan and though he was dropped by the Armenian destroyer, he rallied and won the fight in the Northwest. That same day his promoter Golden Boy Promotions had a Las Vegas fight show with Amir Khan, but several of the staff were being fed information on the fight via cell phone. Eric Gomez relayed the information that Mares had been knocked down early in the fight and looked grim. Thirty minutes later he and several others were jumping up and down when they found out Mares had won.
Since that moment few are surprised at Mares’s accomplishments.
Mares, 26, has proved to be one of the strongest 118-pounders in the world with his aggressive style of pressure fighting when needed, or boxing on the outside and using his speed. Victories over Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko and a draw against Yonnhy Perez show that he can compete with any style. Now both he and Morel test the waters at the 122-pound junior featherweight division.
“I can’t wait to be a world champion in another weight class,” says Mares, who trains in Santa Fe Springs and formerly fought for the Mexican Olympic boxing team in 2004.
Morel is a former Olympian for the Puerto Rican team and a former world champion flyweight. At 36, he’s surprised many by racking up victories after not boxing for nearly three years following a stint in prison. Moving from 112 pounds to 122 pounds has proved beneficial.
“The fight is going to be a catch weight at 120 pounds. I’ve been fighting at 120 for the past three or four fights. It’s going to be an advantage, I think, because I won’t have to make 118,” said Morel, who held the flyweight world title back in 2005.“I’m not saying I have problems making 118, but I can come into the ring a little stronger.”
Character is one of the attributes that Mares has shown, especially after readily accepting a rematch with Agbeko during a foul infested fight that resulted in a win for the Californian, but was marred by comments from Showtime’s announcing team. All claimed he should not have been the winner.
In the rematch Mares blew through Agbeko with such domination that any talk of being undeserving were squashed emphatically. The boxing world viewed Mares as a true bantamweight world champion.
Now it’s Mexican versus Puerto Rican and usually that adds extra spice to any boxing match. Historically, it’s almost a guarantee to be a great contest.
“Puerto Rico and Mexico have been going at it for a very long time and lately we’ve been doing bad, but on April 21, I’m going to change that,” says Morel, who has engaged in some brutal battles with Mexicans in the past.
Mares feels differently.
“I really don’t focus on that. When I go inside the ring it’s just Abner vs. whoever. I don’t look to see if he’s from Puerto Rico, Canada or Europe.At the end of the day, it’s just another fight,” explained Mares.“It’s fun and it’s great that people like the Mexico-
Puerto Rico rivalry, because they know that Mexico and Puerto Rico always brings great fighters and I’m thrilled this is another Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry. It’s going to be a great fight.”
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Adonis Stevenson (17-1) vs. Noe Alcoba (28-1).
Fri. Showtime, 10 p.m., Jermain Taylor (29-4-1) vs. Caleb Truax (18-0-1).
Sat. pay-per-view, UFC Jon Jones (15-1) vs. Rashad Evans (22-1-1); Rory Macdonald (12-1) vs. Che Mills (14-4); Brendan Schaub (9-2) vs. Ben Rothwell (31-8).
Sat. Showtime, 8 p.m., Abner Mares (23-0-1) vs. Eric Morel (46-2).
Sat. Telefutura, 11 p.m., Jose Cotto (32-3-1) vs. Eric Cruz (13-8-3).