Mares beats Almanza; Perez next
Prospect Ronny Rios (right) looked sharp in his knockout victory over Andres Ledesma on Thursday in Los Angeles. Photo / Doroteo Arango
LOS ANGELES – Abner Mares got in some much-needed rounds. He didn’t get cut or injured in any way. In all, it was a very good night’s work.
Mares stopped tricky veteran Felipe Almanza with a vicious right uppercut at 2:23 of the fifth round of a scheduled 10-round junior featherweight fight on the Fight Night Club card Thursday night at Club Nokia in downtown L.A.
With the victory, the 2004 Mexican Olympian ensured a shot at Yonnhy Perez’s bantamweight title – Mares’ first — on the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez undercard on May 22 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“A lot of pressure is off,” said Mares, referring to the danger of any tune-up before a big fight. “Not so much on me personally, but everybody. A lot of people didn’t think I should fight before I fought Yonnhy. Now the pressure is off, though. I can look ahead to Yonnhy.”
Mares (20-0, 13 knockouts) needed the work. THE RING’s No. 8-rated bantamweight had fought only four times since 2007 and hadn’t been in the ring since August, when he stopped Carlos Fulgencio in six rounds.
And Almanza (17-16-4, 8 KOs) was the perfect choice for a tune-up opponent – good boxer, very little power.
Mares’ biggest concern, it seemed, was avoiding Almanza’s head. “Watch the cabeza, watch the head!” his corner yelled repeatedly. The last thing Mares needed, short of a loss, was a cut that would jeopardize the Perez fight.
And Almanza, who has been disqualified twice, landed numerous illegal punches to Mares’ thigh. Mares said it was all he could do to control his anger and expects to have some nasty bruises.
In the end, however, Mares emerged unscathed and with an easy victory.
Almanza was somewhat difficult for Mares to figure out because of his quick feet and defensive style. However, the winner gradually cut off the ring and wore his opponent down with a steady stream of jabs and follow-up power shots.
The end came suddenly. Almanza’s back was against the ropes when Mares landed a right uppercut and then followed with the same punch smack on the Colombian’s chin, which sent him to his knees. Referee Raul Caiz waved off the fight without finishing his count.
Mares, who lives in the L.A. area, was pleased that he was able to get in the work before an appreciative hometown crowd.
“I felt a little rust, in my timing,” he said. “Like any fight, though, you have to figure out your opponent. I didn’t know anything about him until today. I felt him out a little bit and then got my combinations going. ÔÇª I got in five good rounds. Not just a knockout, but five good rounds. I threw a lot of punches.
“Now I’m more ready for Yonnhy.”
Mares said he plans to take a week off and then head back to the gym.
In other fights, young lightweight prospect Ronny Rios of Santa Ana ran his Fight Night Club record to 3-0 with a fifth-round knockout of veteran Andres Ledesma of Miami.
Rios (10-0, 5 KOs) stalked Ledesma (15-17-1, 10 KOs) throughout the fight, stunning him with solid rights several times, but the Colombian proved to be resilient. However, Rios sent Ledesma to all fours with a perfect left to the body midway through the fifth round and he couldn’t go on.
The scheduled six-rounder was stopped at 1:45 of the fifth.
Junior featherweights Derrick Wilson (5-1-2, 2 KOs) of Fort Myers, Fla., and Adam Ochoa (2-1-1, 1 KO) of Amarillo, Texas, battled to an entertaining four-round draw. Both fighters fought aggressively and landed big shots but neither fighter was hurt.
Aron Martinez (11-1-1, 3 KOs) of Los Angeles outpointed Juan Pablo Montes De Oca (9-19-2, 6 KOs)of Las Vegas in a six-round junior middleweight bout. De Oca, a designated opponent if there ever was one, has lost nine consecutive fights to opponents with a combined record of 188-14.
Anatoliy Dudchenko (8-2, 6 KOs) of Ukraine knocked out Harley Kilifan (8-5, 7 KOs) of Menomonie, Wisc., with a single right hand at 1:08 of the first round of a scheduled six-round cruiserweight fight.
And middleweight prospect Dion Savage (7-0, 5 KOs) of Flint, Mich., stopped Danny “Danny Z” Stanislavjevic (8-18-4, 4 KOs) of Los Angeles at 2:53 of the first round of a scheduled four-round light heavyweight fight.
Note: The live stream of the Fight Night Club card will be archived on RingTV.com. Just click on the FIGHT NIGHT CLUB tab in the navigation bar. Also, the April 29 FNC card also will be streamed live on RingTV.com.