Abner Mares: Anselmo Moreno probably could handle any pure brawler, who wouldn’t have the tools to hit him because of his defensive skills. And he could school even an elite boxer with his unusual ability. The problem he had on Saturday is that Mares (25-0-1, 13 knockouts) is good at every aspect of the game, which allowed the Angeleno to win a one-sided decision Saturday in Los Angeles. Mares stayed on top of Moreno from beginning to end, key to his game plan but he did it in an intelligent way. He didn’t barrel in recklessly, which would’ve allowed Moreno to pick him apart. He was able to land against his elusive foe enough to control the fight and avoid most of Moreno’s normally pin-point shots at the same time. Moreno connected on only 27 percent of his punches (192 of 708), according to CompuBox. Mares landed only 23 percent (195 of 850) but he earned favor with effective aggression and more-telling blows. As a result, Mares emerged with the victory and enhanced his reputation.
Anselmo Moreno: This was the slick, athletic Panamanian’s chance to make a big statement before the eyes of American boxing fans – against a well-known and respected opponent, in an important venue, in a Showtime main event. The fact he came up short had to be a bitter disappointment because such chances don’t come often, particularly when you don’t have a crowd-pleasing style. I certainly wouldn’t count Moreno (33-2-1, 12 KOs) out, though. The man is overflowing with talent. His ability to use his quick feet to avoid trouble can be breathtaking. And his fast, accurate punches – even though he has little power – do damage and score points. He will continue to confound almost all of his opponents, including legitimate contenders. He just ran into a better all-around fighter on Saturday, one with the tenacity and ability to find him more than enough to win a comfortable decision.
Mares vs. Donaire: Mares made it clear that he wants to fight Filipino-American star Nonito Donaire next. I think most boxing fans are on board with that. We don’t often see a showdown between two young stars at the peak of their formidable abilities. I have my doubts about whether the fight can be made because of the not-so-friendly rivalry of the fighters’ promoters – Golden Boy (Mares) and Top Rank (Donaire) – but we can hope. Who wins? I’ll say it again: I don’t believe anyone in or around Donaire’s weight class can beat him. His combination of speed, power and cunning is scary. Mares’ determination and exceptional all-around skills probably would be too much for anyone around 122 pounds – except Donaire, who I believe rivals Andre Ward as the next-generation pound-for-pound king. I would love Mares to have a chance to prove me wrong.
Martirosyan vs. Lara: Vanes Martirosyan (32-0-1, 20 KOs) demonstrated against Erislandy Lara (17-1-2, 11 KOs) on Saturday night in Las Vegas that he could compete with an elite opponent, which largely puts to bed lingering doubts about the 2004 U.S. Olympian from the Los Angeles area. Too bad we didn’t have the opportunity to see the fight play out, as it was stopped in the ninth round because of a bad cut over Martirosyan’s left eye (the result of an accidental clash of heads) and scored a technical draw. A rematch makes sense because of the competitive nature of the fight and the inconclusive result. Was the scoring fair? I think so. Martirosyan, a very good boxer, fought with at least somewhat-effective aggression while Lara was the slicker but less aggressive of the two, as per the talented Cuban’s style. The rematch probably would be seen as a toss-up fight, another reason to make it happen.
Wladimir Klitschko’s near-shutout victory over Mariusz Wach (27-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday in Germany was further proof that no one outside his family can challenge the big Ukrainian, who has won 14 consecutive title fights. Perhaps David Price of the U.K. will be the one to give Klitschko (59-3, 50 KOs) a test after a little more seasoning. ÔÇª Robert Helenius (18-0, 11 KOs) looked so-so in his unanimous-decision victory over Sherman Williams (35-12-2, 19 KOs) on Saturday in Finland. It was Helenius’ first fight in 11 months. ÔÇª Mikey Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs) stopped Jonathan Barros (34-4-1, 18 KOs) in the eighth round on the Martirosyan-Lara card, his eighth consecutive stoppage. Can’t wait for him to fight Orlando Salido. ÔÇª Alfredo Angulo’s one-punch KO of Raul Casarez (19-3, 9 KOs) in his comeback fight on the Mares-Moreno card didn’t mean much but it was sure was impressive. Angulo (21-2, 18 KOs) hadn’t fought since he was stopped by James Kirkland last November. ÔÇª Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 KOs) just pummels opponents, as he did against a game Victor Zaleta (20-3-1, 10 KOs) on the Mares-Moreno card. Santa Cruz put Zeleta down with two body shots that were painful to watch and then ended matters with a right to the head in the ninth round. ÔÇª Junior welterweight Antonio Orozco (16-0, 12 KOs) is one to watch. The San Diegan took out a determined Danny Escobar (8-2, 5 KOs) in six rounds in vicious fashion on the Mares-Moreno card. ÔÇª Nathan Cleverly (25-0, 12 KOs) made his U.S. debut against Shawn Hawk (23-3-1, 17 KOs) on the Mares-Moreno card, scoring an eighth-round knockout. Cleverly looked solid but not particularly special. He could have a hard time if he fights Bernard Hopkins, who will be 48 when he steps into the ring on March 9 at Barclays Center. No opponent has been named. ÔÇª Punch of the weekend goes to Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs), who put out the lights of Roberto Castaneda (20-3-1, 15 KOs) with a perfect right hook Friday in Indio, Calif. Russell needs to fight a contender next.