By Matthew Hurley: One punch was all it took for rising star Abner Mares’s boxing world to be knocked off its axis. In the Secondsout Upset of the Year veteran Mexican banger and former two-time featherweight titlist and bantamweight titleholder, Johnny Gonzalez stopped Mares in the first round of their WBC featherweight scrap.
And just like that Mares was no longer climbing the pound-for-pound ranks. He was trying to clear the fog from his mind and wondering what had just happened to him.
Going into the bout, Mares was such a heavy favorite you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who picked against him on the night of August 24 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Yet, despite a deceiving record and age taking over his fistic prime, Gonzalez will always have that all important equalizer – power. And the moment he broke through Abner’s defense with a quick left hook the champion hit the deck.
Mares rose on unsteady pins and beat referee Jack Reiss’s count, but the fight was all but over at that point. Gonzalez threw eight consecutive punches that dropped Mares again, forcing a halt to the action at 2:55 of the opening round.
Gonzalez said afterward that his plan from the very beginning was to jump all over Mares and force the issue against the slicker boxer. “I knew I had to go in for the kill. I didn’t want him to survive.”
Such a devastating set back led many to question Mares’s decision to exercise a contract option for an immediate rematch. But Abner, at least outwardly, seems to have handled the loss well and was itching to get back in the ring against his nemesis as soon as possible.
“I’m going to come back big,” he said, “and I want Gonzalez. I want the rematch right away.”
Mares, a three division title holder, will get his chance for redemption on February 15 at the Staples Center in California.
But Gonzalez is looking for a repeat of what happened in their first go round.
“Abner gave me my shot,” he said when the return bout was announced. “Now I’m going to give him his. I will be keeping my title on February 15.”
We’ll see if Mares can return to form, or if Gonzalez simply has his number. Whatever the outcome, it should be fun while it lasts.
Matthew Hurley is a full time member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His first book on boxing, Ringside Reflections, can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.