Lem’s latest: Mares says Russell ‘hasn’t fought anybody’
Prior to his ninth-round knockout victory that dethroned Daniel Ponce de Leon for the WBC’s featherweight belt on the May 4 Showtime PPV undercard to Floyd Mayweather Jr.–Robert Guerrero, Abner Mares mentioned unbeaten Gary Russell Jr. as a potential opponent.
Russell (22-0, 13 knockouts), of Capitol Heights, Md., welcomed the prospect of facing Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs) during a recent interview with RingTV.com, saying that the three-division titlewinner would “be so easy” to defeat if they met.
“I think he’s [Mares] okay. I think he’s tailor-made for me. I think that everyone is going to have this fight hyped if it does go down. I feel that everybody’s going to have it so hyped up to be a great fight,” said Russell, a speedy southpaw who turns 25 in June, of Mares.
“They’re going to hype him up to be a monster. But when I compete against him, it’s going to be so easy. I like that, because that’s going to really make it. I love the fact that they’re going to make this guy look like a monster, so that I can get him and beat him the way that I will beat him. It will make me look that much better.”
On Wednesday, Mares, 27, offered a rebuttal to Russell, questioning the resume of a fighter who has fought the eight-round distance twice and the 10-round distance once, and has yet to face a top-10 contender.
“[Laughs] It’s funny the says that, coming from a guy who hasn’t fought any A-level fighters to this date. To say that I would be an easy fight, he must really, really believe in himself, which obviously, he does. But I don’t take it personally,” said Mares.
“I don’t take it as an insult. He feels that way and that’s on him. But again, I feel that he hasn’t fought any A-level fighters and I’m not labeling myself A-level fighter. But I’ve fought A-level fighters, and I think that I’m up there. Again, Gary Russell really hasn’t fought anybody.”
Meanwhile, Mares added Ponce de Leon to an already impressive list of vanquished rivals, particularly in the bantamweight division where he twice outpointed ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earned a split decision over former two-division beltholder Vic Darchinyan and battled to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez — all over a 20-month span.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex- flyweight beltholder Eric Morel last April to earn the WBC’s belt.
In November of last year, Mares scored a unanimous decision over reigning WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno, who rose in weight to challenge for the junior featherweight belt. Mares dropped the Panamanian in the fifth round and ended the Panamanian southpaw’s 27-bout winning streak.
Russell is coming off a unanimous decision over Vyacheslav Gusev on March 2, during which he suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand which he said is healing well.
Russell is scheduled to return to action against an opponent to be determined on the July 13 undercard of the Bernard Hopkins–Karo Murat IBF light heavyweight title fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Although Russell has said that he “is not signed to any promotion’s team,” the boxer has a good working relationship with Golden Boy Promotions, which has promoted nearly all of the shows he has appeared on as a pro.
“Being that he has fought under Golden Boy, it could be an easy fight to make,” said Mares. “If it’s a fight that the fans would want to see… I’m the type of fighter that would fight anyone. Whenever this fight with Gary Russell were to happen, we’ll find out then if I’m tailor-made for him.
“Again, I would love to fight him if he’s calling me out. For him to be saying that I will be an easy fight, I mean, that’s big. If that’s the way that he feels, then, whatever, you know? We’ll find out whenever we fight.”
Mares said he met earlier this month with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer to discuss his future, and Schaefer revealed some of the details from their discussion during an interview with RingTV.com.
“We’re currently talking to the WBC to do something with the WBC in Mexico showcasing Abner Mares. Abner Mares was a big hit, not only based on his last performance which, obviously, was very exciting against Ponce de Leon. But, really, over the past couple of years when Abner was really just marching through the divisions and fought everyone. He has become a big star in Mexico,” said Schaefer.
“Now, you have to remember that he was a Mexican Olympian, so he was known already in Mexico. But Televisa absolutely loves him, the fight fans love him because of his exciting style. Abner Mares is another one of those fighters who is never in a bad fight. He always comes to fight, he’s very impressive. He can bang with a banger and he can box with a boxer, it’s just amazing the talent that he has. I that is why most boxing experts have placed him in the Top 10 pound-for-pound… That’s well-deserved because he’s a sensational fighter and it’s long overdue.”
Mares said July and August were mentioned as potential dates for a bout in Mexico, as was an appearance on a date targeted for Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas also being a possibility.
Schaefer has listed as his top priority a battle of RING and WBC champions between Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) for Sept. 14, which is on Mexican Independence Day weekend.
ANDRE WARD PICKS CARL FROCH TO GAIN VENGEANCE AGAINST MIKKEL KESSLER
Super middleweight champion Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOS) will be on hand at the O2 Arena in London to call Saturday night’s HBO-televised 168-pound return bout between British IBF titleholder Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KOs) and Danish rival Mikkel Kessler (46-2, 35 KOs), the latter of whom won their 2010 bloodbath by unanimous decision as part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Ward, 29, has earned unanimous decision victories over both Kessler, 34, and Froch, 35, the former in November of 2009 and the latter in 2011 for the RING, WBA and WBC belts.
During a recent interview with Boxing News Magazine in England, Ward selected Froch to gain his revenge againsit Kessler.
“Carl Froch has been in some tough fights but I think he has more in the tank. I think Kessler has kind of dipped a little bit since he and I fought,” said Ward, “and even since he fought Froch the first time. Even though it’s going to be a tough fight, it’s going to be back and forth, I can’t see Kessler winning this.”
Since falling to Ward, Froch has scored consecutive stoppage victories over previously unbeaten IBF beltholder Lucian Bute by fifth-round knockout, and Philadelphia’s Yusaf Mack in the third round.
Kessler earned his fourth straight win and his third consecutive stoppage victory with December’s third-round knockout of Ireland’s Brian Magee, who Froch KO’d in May of 2006.
“Kessler’s last two performances, he hasn’t fought the best guys — a shop-worn Allan Green then Brian Magee, who’s very tough but limited — and he’s going to look good against them,” said Ward.
“But I don’t know if he has the same fire as when he fought Froch the first time. I would be shocked if Kessler got his hand raised. I think Froch wins and I wouldn’t be surprised if Froch caught and stopped him.”
Kessler-Froch II will air live at 6 p.m. ET/ 3 p.m. PT, with a primetime replay scheduled for 10 p.m. ET/PT.
TRAINER: DEVON ALEXANDER TO BE SET BY THE END OF JULY
Southpaw IBF welterweight beltholder Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs), who suffered a broken left hand during last Saturday night’s dominant seventh-round technical knockout of Great Britain’s Lee Purdy (20-4-1, 13 KOs), is expected to “be at 100 percent” by the end of July, Alexander’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, informed RingTV.com on Wednesday.
Cunningham said that Alexander was examined on Tuesday by Chesterfield, Missouri-based hand specialist David M. Brown, who is affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball team.
“Good news, he has to wear a hand brace for five weeks,” wrote Cunningham, in an initial e-mail to RingTV.com. “Dr. Brown, the hand specialist for the St.Louis Cardinals, says that, Devon should have full use of his left hand by the end of July. So Devon will be ready to fight any of the top guys in the fall.”
The visit to Brown was made two days after emergency X-rays taken late Sunday night at The Sisters of Saint Mary’s St. Joseph Health Center in Saint Charles, Mo., revealed a break in the fifth metacarpal bone (outermost bone on the pinkie side) of Alexander’s left hand.
The trainer of Devon Alexander (left) claims that the fighter damaged his left hand while landing this punch against the head of Lee Purdy, whom Alexander stopped after seven rounds on Saturday night.
“This was yesterday. I would say we met for about 35 or 40 minutes. They shipped over the X-rays, he looked over the X-rays, he looked at the hand, and he fitted Devon for a hand brace. After looking at all of the X-rays, he told him exactly what it was. He said that the break was a small break in the fifth metacarpal bone,” said Cunningham, during a followup interview.
“Everything is lined up. All that he has to do is wear the brace for five weeks and he should be fine. He said that by the end of July, Devon should be at 100 percent and that he can be ready for sparring or hitting the heavy bag or doing whatever he wants to do. He can go 100 percent. But he’s got to go back to Dr. Brown in three weeks just to see how it’s healing, and that’s it.”
A former two-belt holder as a 140-pounder, Alexander, 26, broke his hand in the first round against Purdy, a 25-year-old Brit who was knocked out for the first time in his career.
Photos by Al Bello, Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Kevin Cunningham
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]