Abner Mares Q&A: ‘It’s a new era’
Abner Mares is looking to close out 2014 with a win against fringe contender Jose Ramirez on Saturday, setting him up for bigger business next year.
“My weight class is packed with great talent,” Mares told RingTV.com last Friday. “God willing, getting this win [I can look forward to] getting big fights in 2015.”
Mares (27-1-1, 14 knockouts) lost his undefeated record and WBC featherweight title last August, when he was shockingly stopped in the opening round by Jhonny Gonzalez.
Getting over the loss was tough for the bilingual 2004 Mexican Olympian. Mares was away from boxing for close to a year but he returned over the summer, outpointing Jonathan Oquendo. The performance was viewed my many as pedestrian.
“The ring rust, I had been out almost a year,” Mares explained. “I had recently switched trainers, [I was with] Virgil Hunter in Oakland. That has a little bit to do with it – that wasn’t my style. I’m not a type of boxer that grabs, I like to throw punches.
“That definitely had an affect on that fight, but nevertheless I got the win. Now that I’m back with my original trainer, Clemente Medina, you can expect the old Abner back.”
Mares is currently ranked No. 3 at 126 pounds by THE RING and WBO, and No. 1 by the WBC.
Along with Mares-Ramirez, the Showtime quadrupleheader, dubbed “Royal Battle,” will be headlined by Amir Khan vs. Devon Alexander at welterweight and include Keith Thurman vs. Leonard Bundu and Jermall Charlo vs. Lenny Bottai. Showtime Extreme is also scheduled to showcase Victor Ortiz, Errol Spence and Jermall Charlo’s twin brother, Jermell.
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on facing Ramirez?
Abner Mares – He’s got a similar record to mine, the only difference is I know little about him, which makes him a little more dangerous because when you don’t know much about a fighter you don’t know what to expect. It’ll be a great fight, I’m ready to give the fans and public a great show.
AW – You say you don’t know to much about him, but given what little you do know what do you see as his strengths and areas you can exploit?
AM – I know we have similar records but I’ve been three-time world champion, I have faced multiple talented fighters. In that area I’m more experienced. From his boxing technique, I think he’s more of a brawler, so I could work my short punches, my straight punches, I think they’ll do damage to Jose Ramirez.
AW – Ramirez was stopped in four rounds by Vasyl Lomachenko – is there any pressure to better or match that win?
AM – Not at all, styles make fights. Lomachenko being a southpaw gave Ramirez a lot of trouble. Lomachenko is a very talented fighter but again, styles make fights. He’s a brawler. I like that style, so maybe I’ll look even better, hopefully getting the stoppage. If not, a win is a win.
AW – You’ve made several changes to your management and training team?
AM – It’s a great change, it’s a new package, it’s a new era and a new Abner Mares. It’s a new chapter for me and my career. I’m no longer with Golden Boy Promotions, I’m no longer with Frank Espinoza, I recently signed with Al Haymon. I’m ready to come back.
AW – So you’re a promotional free agent?
AM – Yes, actually this is my last fight on my contract with Golden Boy.
AW – What was the reasoning between switching between Clemente Medina to Virgil Hunter and then going back to Medina again?
AM – My performance against Oquendo and just feeling comfortable. Here in L.A, at home with my family and again my style is here with Clemente Medina, the man that took me to three world titles.
AW – How difficult has it been for you putting the Gonzalez loss behind you?
AM – It was hard, it was really difficult. I did not expect to lose, like many of the people and fans and writers did not either. The way it happened, a knockout in the first round, frustrated me a little bit. I wanted the rematch right away but that didn’t happen, I got injured during training. After that I started getting depressed because I thought mentally I wasn’t what I was: a three-weight world champion, a man that was going up in the ranks, and definitely it hit me mentally. But with the help of my family and the help of the fans I got back up, I got my win in July. I feel comfortable now at home and now I’m ready to take over the featherweight division.
AW – Was it as much embarrassing because it was an early stoppage loss and not a fight that was a close fight in which you had your moments?
AM – I’ve never even thought of that. Just the fact I lost and I disappointed my fans, that’s pretty much it. Yeah, maybe if I had gone the distance in a good, close fight. I got knocked out in the first round, I felt a little bit embarrassed and disappointed in myself and to my fans.
AW – Oscar De La Hoya has gone on record saying he would like to match you with Leo Santa Cruz in 2015. What are your thoughts on that?
AM – It’s an interesting fight, it’s a fight that’s been talked about for two years now. It got mentioned before the Jhonny Gonzalez fight. It’s a fight that I’m willing to take, a fight that I’m looking forward to and with the work of Oscar De La Hoya and Al Haymon hopefully we can get that going.
AW – Would you like one of you to win a world title at featherweight before that happens or do you think it’s a big enough fight that it doesn’t need to have a title on the line?
AM – The second one. Both names are big here in L.A, it definitely doesn’t need the help of a world title on the line. I’m willing and I know Leo is as well. Let’s see what happens.
AW – All being equal which fight would you most like?
AM – Jhonny Gonzalez without a doubt. I want my rematch.
AW – The featherweight division is packed with talent. When you look at the top 10 according to RING Magazine, what are your comments on your contemporaries?
1. Jhonny Gonzalez – Power puncher.
2. Nicholas Walters – A hungry puncher. This man came out of nowhere. I only saw him fight against Nonito (Donaire). A surprising, great challenge.
3. Abner Mares – A forgotten talent.
4. Vasyl Lomachenko – He is a slick fighter.
5. Evgeny Gradovich – All heart.
6. Nonito Donaire – Still a dangerous fighter.
7. Simpiwe Vetyeka – I know who he is but I’ve never seen him fight.
8. Lee Selby – I don’t know him.
9. Jesus Cuellar – A devastating, hard-working fighter.
10. Jayson Velez – He’s still a novice but he’s a good fighter.
AW – Who is the most dangerous fighter amongst that list of fighters?
AM – Out of all of those it’s Abner Mares.
AW – Who’s the best fighter amongst them?
AM – I would say Lomachenko outside Abner Mares.
AW – What did you think of Lomachenko and Walters‘ recent wins and Gradovich-Velez?
AM – Lomachenko looked great in the first rounds before he got the injury, after that [he] got my respect winning the fight with just one hand. I think he looked great.
Nicholas Walters, just a hungry fighter that surprised everyone. I thought Nonito was going to beat him but he’s just one big featherweight.
Velez to be honest I thought lost the fight. It definitely wasn’t a draw. Yes, it was a competitive fight, he fought his heart out. He deserves another chance, maybe not at a world title but a name fighter.
AW – You’re a three-weight world champion – what goals do you still have in boxing?
AM – When I lost to Jhonny, I felt accomplished, I felt I had done everything I wanted to. I had become world champion in not one weight but three weight classes. So now I’m setting myself goals and my goal is to become a four- or five-time world champion in that many weight classes. And not just that, [but also] fight every single fighter I possibly can. Every single tough opponent that is out there.
AW – So you may yet head up to and beyond junior lightweight?
AM – I’m not looking at it just now but I am looking at stepping up. I did have an opportunity of fighting for the world title at 130 (vs. Takashi Miura on the Mayweather-Maidana undercard) but I didn’t feel it was time for me. I still feel comfortable at featherweight.
AW – We know you as a fighter, tell us about yourself away from boxing?
AM – I’m a family guy, I have two daughters, I’m married, I’ve been married for 10 years. That’s pretty much what I do aside from boxing – take care of my kids. I’m trying to be one of the best pound-for-pound dads out there.
AW – In closing do you have a message for the featherweight division?
AM – They know who Abner Mares is, and be ready for Abner Mares’ comeback.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/AnsonWainwright