Saturday, November 26, 2022  |


Mares sharp in victory


Slick-boxing Gamalier Rodriguez gave David Rodela (right) all he could handle but Rodela, the aggressor throughout, won a unanimous decision on Thursday night at Club Nokia in L.A.

Abner Mares missed almost a year of boxing and a chance to fight for a major title when he suffered a detached retina last year. Now, back in the ring and more eager than ever, he’s probably one or two fights away for another shot at a belt.

The former Mexican Olympian wasn’t about to let Carlos Fulgencio spoil his plans Thursday in the eight-round main event of another energy-packed Fight Night Club at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.

THE RING’s No. 7-rated bantamweight, who lives in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., put on a beautiful display of boxing to dominate a tall, capable opponent and then stop him with a vicious left hook to the body at 2:24 of the sixth round.

Mares now has a date on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view fight Sept. 19 in Las Vegas.

“At the beginning, I felt a little rusty,” Mares said. “I felt kind of slow. I thought I would finish it early. I got it in my mind, though, that I should take my time. Then I got a second wind and finished it with a body shot.

“… I wasn't going to let him spoil my night, not in front of my hometown fans. What better way to please the fans than a knockout?”

Mares (19-0, 11 knockouts) didn't look rusty. He seized control of the fight from the opening bell, consistently scoring with hard, effective punches to the head and body of his Dominican opponent while avoiding Fulgencio’s best punches at the same time.

Fulgencio (11-4-1, 7 KOs) proved to be resilient, absorbing all of Mares’ best shots and continuing to fight back … until the sixth round, when Mares decided that he wanted to finish the job and go home.

Mares viciously attacked Fulgencio until he finally planted a perfect hook into his body, sending him to the canvas in pain. Raul Caiz Jr. started to count but then saw that Fulgencio couldn’t continue and ended the fight.

“Like I said, I got a second wind,” Mares said. “I felt better. I wanted to work inside and punish his body and that's what I did. I felt he was done.”

Mares has now won two consecutive fights since returning from eye surgery. He stopped Jonathan Perez in six rounds in May.

And this was his first fight with new trainer Joel Diaz.

“I felt better than I did in the first fight in my comeback,” Mares said. “I did stop the (other) guy but I felt my punches were more effective tonight. I got a great knockout.”

Fulgencio said he took the fight on late notice, leaving him with only three weeks to train. He'd love a rematch — but with more notice.

“I'm a better quality fighter than I showed,” he said through a translator. “I couldn't tell that he was stronger than me. He was just in better condition. He's a good fighter, though.”

In other fights:

David Rodela is in the process of building himself into a legitimate title contender. On Thursday, he took another hard-earned step in that direction.

The lanky junior lightweight from Oxnard, Calif., used his aggression and perseverance to defeat talented Gamalier Rodriguez by a unanimous six-round decision in a grueling effort for both fighters.

Rodela (14-1-3, 6 knockouts) pushed the action from the outset but had trouble cleanly hitting his slick opponent from Puerto Rico, who waited to counter Rodela the entire fight. However, Rodela kept after Rodriguez (8-2-2, 4 KOs) and did more and more damage as the fight went on.

The scores were 59-55, 59-55 and 58-56 in Rodela’s favor.

Neither fighter was hurt in the fight.

Carlos Molina of Norwalk, Calif., a winner on the second FNC card, wasted no time in taking out Antony Nelson in a scheduled four-round junior welterweight fight.

Molina (9-0, 5 KOs) jumped on Nelson (7-11-1, 7 KOs) at the opening bell in a wild attempt to knock him out. Nelson survived but, about a minute later, he was pinned against the ropes and took a number of hard shots.

The last one sent him reeling across the ring, which prompted referee Lou Moret to stop it.

Featherweight Ricky Lopez, the baby-faced brawler from Oxnard, turned in his third straight scintillating performance on a Fight Night Club card. This time, in the opening TV bout, he put an overmatched John Wambash down three times and won an easy four-round decision in an action-packed bout.

Lopez (6-0, 2 KOs) lost the first round on all cards but won by the same score of 39-34. Wampash (1-2-1) is from Miami.

David Gaspar (11-2-1, 7 KOs) of Wilmington, Calif., put Sergio Espinoza (16-6-1, 5 KOs) of San Diego down twice and won a one-sided decision in a six-round junior bantamweight fight.

Espinoza, a one-time prospect who has now lost four of his last six fights, was hurt badly by a barrage of punches late in the final round but managed to survive.

The scores were 59-53, 58-54 and 58-54.

Former amateur standout Juan Heraldez of Las Vegas, making his pro debut, stopped tough, but overmatched Luis Tapia (1-3) of Los Angeles at 2:36 of the second round of a scheduled four-round junior welterweight bout.

And Kerry Hope (12-2, 1 KO) of Lake Arrowhead, Calif., outlasted crude, but tough Danny Jevic (8-16-4, 4 KOs) of Los Angeles to win a unanimous decision in a six-round middleweight bout.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]