Q&A: Mares wants Gonzalez rematch or Santa Cruz showdown
Three-division titlewinner Abner Mares wants a rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez in the wake of the shocking first-round knockout loss that dethroned him as WBC featherweight titleholder this past Saturday.
But if not Gonzalez, then Mares wants his next fight to be against newly-crowned WBC junior featherweight beltholder Leo Santa Cruz.
“Man, if anything, it just woke up the beast that I had inside of me,” Mares (26-1-1, 14 knockouts) said of the Gonzalez loss. “Seriously, man. I’m eager to just get inside of the ring and just do my thing again. I want to get right back into the ring. If anything, I’m going to ask to get that rematch with Gonzalez before the end of the year. That’s what I want is that rematch.”
A 27-year-old who entered the bout as THE RING’s No. 5-rated pound-for-pound fighter, Mares was dropped twice by Gonzalez during the first defense of the belt he won in his 126-pound debut, a ninth-round knockout of Daniel Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon was the last man to defeat Gonzalez in an eighth-round technical decision last September that ended Gonzalez’s 12-fight winning streak which included 11 knockouts.
In Saturday’s co-feature, Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs) scored a third-round knockout of Victor Terrazas for the WBC 122-pound title.
“I don’t want to take a fight in between,” Mares told RingTV.com on Tuesady. “I want my next fight to be the rematch with Gonzalez. Or, if they give me the Santa Cruz fight, I’ll take that one as well. But I want the rematch, because it’s just woke up the beast inside of me.”
Mares shared his thoughts on the fight and his future during this exclusive Q&A:
Click here for a video of Gonzalez-Mares
RingTV.com: Your thoughts on the loss?
Abner Mares: Man, if anything, it just woke up the beast that I had inside of me. Seriously, man. I’m eager to just get inside of the ring and just do my thing again.
RTV: How are you handling the loss?
AM: I mean, it’s hard on me. But at the same time, I know that it’s for the good. You know what I’m saying. I’m working on it, and I’ll be right back in the gym next week. It’s nothing. It’s just awakened the beast inside of me.
RTV: Are you going to take some time off, or have you had enough time to think about it and you want to get right back into the ring?
AM: You know what? I want to get right back into the ring. If anything, I’m going to ask to get that rematch with Gonzalez before the end of the year.
That’s what I want is that rematch. That’s what I want because, really, there was no fight. There was no fight at all. It happened so quickly. The fight was barely starting.
I got caught with a punch and that was it. I wasn’t able to recover, but then again, I was. I was trying to get up, but the referee waved off the fight.
I think that I was on my way up again, and that the round would have ended. I know that the referee was doing his job, but I was aware, and I don’t think that he could see that.
RTV: Is it accurate that you did not appear to be making eye contact with Jack Reiss until after he placed his left hand on your right shoulder and informed you that it was over?
AM: Yeah, I’ve seen that. I did not make eye contact with him at that point. When he did that, my eyes were on the floor and I was on my way up. I was trying to get up, and I think that he said something.
It think that he said, “That’s it,” and when he said, “That’s it,” I said, “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay.” I was on my way. I think I told him, “I’m getting up, I’m okay, I’ll fight.”
He was like, “Nah, son, you’re done.” I was like, “Okay.” But it was the first round. I still remember everything. I still remembered getting up the first time and then being knocked down the second time.
It was just part of the same thing. I was still hurt a little bit from being down the first time, but, you know, again, I thought that I could have continued.
RTV: Is there anything that you would have done differently, such as hold instead of engaging in a fight after being down the first time?
AM: You know what? I mean, maybe fighters would understand this, but the common people probably won’t, but the reason that I say this is beause in my head, I was clear and okay, and that’s the reason that I was going back at him.
In my head, I was clear and I wasn’t hurt. Maybe my legs were gone and I didn’t realize that, but in my head, I was clear, and I saw that he was coming. So I started trading with him.
Then one of my legs gave out, and that was my right leg, and I actually landed it on it. That hurt. I landed on my right leg, and it just gave out on me and I went down the second time because of that reason.
Again, I was on my way up. The only thing that I would have changed is that maybe I would not trade hooks with
the hooker, you know what I’m saying? I was on my way to hook and that’s when I got caught.
I had my hands down and I got caught early in the round, and maybe I wasn’t that warmed up. But he caught me with a good punch. He caught me great, and that was it. But again, that was no fight.
He can’t even say whether he was winning the round or whether I was winning the round. I mean, it was barely starting. The fight had barely begun.
RTV: Would the right leg that gave out on you have been okay for the remainder of the fight?
AM: Yeah, when I got up the first time, it was hurting. But the second time, I landed on it. It had given out on me and I just landed on my leg. I think that the same thing happened to [Sergio] Maravilla Martinez once.
I remember him telling me that, and the same thing happened to me. But, again, I was on my way up. After the fight, it was hurting a little bit.
I think that during the fight, I would have just toughed it out. It was warm and it only started to really hurt after the fight, and after I relaxed. But I think that I could have continued.
RTV: What sort of reaction have you received from your fans, and, do you, in turn, have any reaction to what you’ve read about the fight over the weekend?
AM: First of all, first and foremost, I want to thank all of my fans and I want to say that I’m sorry for not giving them the performance that I could have. That really wasn’t a fight.
But I’ll be back. I’ll be back, and I received a lot of love. I received more love this time than I have for some of the wins. I really got so much love, and I really want to thank my true fans who have been there for me.
They’ve been sending me tweets, texts, Instagrams. Man, it’s amazing. It’s amazing the reaction that I’ve gotten from my true fans. Of course, there are obviously those ones who say that I was all hype, and that’s the reson it happened.
But everybody’s reacting differently. But a punch is a punch, and people who understand boxing realize that it happens.
It’s a sport, and it wasn’t my night. I lost, and we’ll get right back up.We’re going to get right back up and continue and we’re going to come back big.
RTV: Just to make clear, you want your next fight to be the rematch against Gonzalez or do you want to take a fight before that?
AM: No, I don’t want to take a fight in between. I want my next fight to be the rematch with Gonzalez, or, if they give me the Santa Cruz fight, I’ll take that one as well. But I want the rematch, because it’s just woke up the beast inside of me.
Photo by Gene Blevins, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]