Saturday, March 25, 2023  |


Mares ready for Fight Night Club ‘tune-up’


Abner Mares brings more star power to Fight Night Club on Thursday night at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.

The gifted bantamweight contender, rated No. 8 by THE RING, faces veteran Felipe Almanza of Colombia in a 10-round main event in what is expected to be a tune-up for bigger things. The card will be televised live on Fox Sports Net and its regional affiliates and streamed live on beginning at 8 p.m PT.

If Mares wins, he will fight Yonnhy Perez for Perez’s 118-pound title on May 22. Mares said he’s taking no chances against Almanza.

“I’ve trained two months. I’m ready for this fight,” he said.

Mares (19-0, 12 knockouts) was in position to challenge for then-titleholder Gerry Penalosa’s belt in 2008 but suffered a detached retina and didn’t fight for about 10 months. He has scored two knockouts since his return, over Jonathan Perez last May and Carlos Fulgencio in August.

The fight on Thursday is designed to allow him to shake off any remaining rust.

“This is a little bit of a tune-up to sharpen him up for the title fight,” said Eric Gomez, matchmaker at Golden Boy Promotions. “We all know tune-ups can up causing problems. I hate it, I hate it. I tried to talk him out of it. His father thought it was important, though.

“He said, ‘Hey, he’s been out of the ring a while. He’s rusty.'”

Almanza (17-15-4, 8 KOs) is unbeaten in his last seven fights against fellow journeymen. He also has some experience against elite fighters, losing to Eric Morel and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

Also on the card, in the co-main event, Ronny Rios (9-0, 4 KOs) of Santa Ana, Calif., faces Miami-based Colombian Andres Ledesma (15-16-1, 10 KOs) in a six-round lightweight bout.

Rios, making his third appearance on Fight Night Club, is one of Golden Boy’s top young prospects.

“I think Ronny is the whole package,” Gomez said. “I think he’s similar to Abner in the way he boxes, the way he punches and moves. We’re building him up right now, getting him experience. He could be where Abner is now in about two years.

“He’ll have enough experience then to fight for a title.”

Ledesma, 2-15 in his last 17 fights, has become a professional opponent. His biggest victory was a fifth-round TKO of Gary Stark Jr. in 2007. Stark won a decision in a rematch.

Also, Derrick Wilson (5-1-1, 2 KOs) of Ft. Myers, Fla., faces Adam Ochoa (2-1, 1 KO) of Amarillo, Texas, in a four-round junior featherweight bout. Wilson, another Golden Boy prospect, stopped Charles Huerta in one round in his only Fight Night Club appearance in July but is coming off a surprise split-decision loss to journeyman Guadalupe De Leon in December.

And David Aleman of Los Angeles will take on Gerald Fisher of Atlanta in a four-round welterweight fight. Both fighters will be making their professional debuts.

Doors open at 6 p.m. PT. The first fight begins at 7 p.m. PT.

Tickets, ranging from $19.75 to $250 (on stage), are available by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000, online at and at the Staples Center box office.