Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens had already won titles in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions when he challenged Daniel Ponce De Leon for his featherweight title this past Saturday at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Not only was Mares moving up in weight, he was facing a left-handed power hitter in De Leon. Mares went right after De Leon and stopped him in the ninth round to become a three-division champion. As impressive as Mares was, trainer Abel Sanchez of West Covina believes we have yet to see his best.
“Just like Floyd (Mayweather), he seems to be getting stronger and better at the higher weights,” said Sanchez, who trains middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin out of his sprawling camp in Big Bear, Calif. “When he gets to 130 (super featherweight), he’s going to be an even better fighter. He has good mobility, he was able to withstand Ponce De Leon’s punching; De Leon’s a strong puncher.
“He’s not going to shy away from anybody. He has proven that in all of his fights. And to go in there against a guy who was at least 10 pounds heavier, he took everything De Leon threw and De Leon never wobbled him. I think it has a lot to do with him going up in weight. Not having to sacrifice for weight makes him a better fighter, just like it did with Floyd.”
De Leon appeared to be a good 10 pounds heavier than Mares at fight time.
Mares, 27, on Monday at 6 p.m. will be recognized by the city of Hawaiian Gardens at a special city council meeting.
Showtime on Saturday at 6 p.m. will televise a replay of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero welterweight title fight this past Saturday from MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather won a unanimous decision by three scores of 117-111 and is now 44-0.
Also being replayed is the semi-main event between Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens and Mexico’s Daniel Ponce De Leon. Mares, a former bantamweight and super bantamweight champion, moved up in weight and took De Leon’s featherweight title with a ninth-round TKO.
Both bouts were televised live on Showtime pay-per-view.
Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens on Friday weighed in at the limit of 126 pounds for his challenge Saturday to featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view). They will tangle underneath the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero welterweight title fight.
De Leon also weighed in at 126 pounds.
Mares, 27, is 25-0-1 with 13 knockouts. He has previously won championships in the bantamweight and super bantamweight divisions.
De Leon, 32, is 44-4 with 35 knockouts.
Abner Mares spent quite some time pining for a fight with fellow super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire. Thanks to an absurd feud between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Inc. – promoters for Mares and Donaire, respectively – that fight never happened. Donaire ended up taking on another Top Rank super bantamweight champion – Guillermo Rigondeaux – last month and was defeated.
Mares relinquished his belt, moved up to featherweight and Saturday – in his first fight at 126 pounds – he will challenge Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico for his title on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime pay-per-view).
“I think everything happens for a reason,” said Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens. “Everything’s fell into place and I think it was meant to be. Thank God, I thank Golden Boy and everybody in my whole team for making this possible to give me an opportunity to fight for another world title with the opportunity of becoming three-time world champion. I’m excited for this weekend.”
Making this story even more cool, Mares said he had no idea he was going to get to challenge De Leon in his first featherweight bout. He said he made the move up in weight and the fight came along. Even more interesting, both Mares and De Leon are managed by Frank Espinoza of West Covina.
Mares, 27, is 25-0-1 with 13 knockouts. De Leon, 32, is 44-4 with 35 knockouts.