With all the focus on the showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Robert Guerrero on May 4, the Abner Mares vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon contest could end up being the highlight of the night.
A 2000 Olympian, Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs ) won the WBC featherweight belt from Jhonny Gonzales in 2012.Just two years ago, De Leon ’s career appeared to be in jeopardy after back-to-back losses to Yuriokis Gamboa and Adrien Broner.
Some thought his better days were behind him.
Not so fast.
De Leon rebounded with three consecutive victories - culminating in an eighth round stoppage of Gonzales.
The undefeated Mares (25-0, 13 KOs ) will be gunning for his third world title. Mares, 27, has made a habit of surprising the experts. Against Vic Darchinyan in 2010 he was dropped for the first time in his career. Mares got up, shook his head and fought back - flooring Darhinyan in round seven and winning by a split decision.
Mares defeated Joseph Agbeko a second time to capture the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament. He moved up a weight division and dominated former flyweight champion Eric Morel. He then faced favored Anselmo Moreno, a slick boxer with a record of thirty-three wins and one loss. Mares stalked Moreno for 12 rounds, rarely giving the speedster a chance to catch his breath. The decision wasn't even close.
Like Mares, De Leon has won titles in two weight classes. His thirty-five wins by knockout are a testament to his punching power. Mares has faced punchers in the past (see Darchinyan), but De Leon , with his physical strength, is one tough cookie. He’s hardly the one-dimensional slugger - as he proved in his bout with Broner.
Mares understands what he'll be up against May 4.
“It’s going to be a great fight – a fight that a lot of fans are looking forward to," said Mares at a press conference last week. "It’s going to be a difficult fight being that I’m stepping up to a different weight class, a weight class that I’m not familiar with. At the same time, I’m excited to capture my third world title."
Common sense indicates that size could play a factor. De Leon is the naturally larger fighter. He’s used to mixing it up with bigger guys. Mares has been fighting bantamweights.
However, sense and Mares don’t mix. The intensity he brings into to his fights is his biggest asset. He develops a fight plan and sticks to it.
This is a pick’em fight. If De Leon, with his heavier punches, can hurt Mares the night could be his. If Mares can box - and pick his spots he’ll bring home his third belt.
Personally, I like the latter.
Mares, will apply his youth, quickness and heart to prevail in a tough fight.
John J. Raspanti responds to all his emails. Please send all questions and comments to John at: firstname.lastname@example.org