By John J. Raspanti at Ringside in at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for Doghouse Boxing.
AbnerMares and Daniel Ponce De Leon are friends outside of the ring. Mares, 26-0-1 (14), proved to be a better foe than friend by stopping Ponce de Leon, 44-5 (35), in round nine at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mares claimed the WBC featherweight title with the victory.
In the opening stanza, Mares used his jab and boxed. Ponce de Leon, a southpaw, stalked and looked for openings. A right hand was a little short but an overhand left landed. Mares used subtle movement to keep Ponce de Leon from setting his feet.
In round two, a big Ponce de Leon left clipped Mares. Mares slipped a right jab and countered with two right hands. An overhand by Mares also found pay dirt. Near the end of the round, a sweeping Mares left hook, started from Southern California, floored Ponce de Leon. The two-time champion pulled himself up and found his feet at five.
Mares went back to work in rounds three and four, landing a combination to the head and body. Ponce de Leon loaded up his left but Mares continued to beat him to the punch. He’d pick his spots and counter and his investment to the body was constant.
In round five, Mares went back to boxing, shooting his jab and going back to the body. Ponce de Leon stalked but was found Mares to be a difficult target.
Mares’ clever boxing and punching persisted in rounds six and seven. Ponce de Leon landed a glancing blow that Mares absorbed before a big Mares right knocked Ponce de Leon back. Mares went down from a shot below the belt in round seven. Ponce de Leon connected with a left but Mares was soon back in charge. His snappy right reminded Ponce de Leon of his quicker hands.
Round eight was fought more evenly as Ponce de Leon, 32, was still trying to time Mares. In round nine, Mares, 27, kept his right near his chin, shooting his punches and moving away. Near the two-minute mark as they wrestled near the center of the ring, a colossal Mares right hand knocked Ponce de Leon flat on his back. The game warrior was up at seven and Mares jumped all over him.
Two more rights landed - punctuated by a left hook to the body. Finally, referee Jay Nady had seen enough and waved off the contest at 2:20 of round nine.
“I want to dedicate this victory to my Dad,” said Mares in the ring. “I knew what I had to do. He‘s my friend.”
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