Abner Mares vs. Ponce De Leon?

By Clarence George on February 11, 2013
Abner Mares vs. Ponce De Leon?
Abner Mares is easily the dirtiest fighter since the deservedly maligned Andrew Golota.


Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple once astutely observed that “so many people seem to me not to be either bad or good, but simply, you know, very silly.” The same may be said of institutions. Are there any sillier than Top Rank and Golden Boy? If not for their infantile feuding, boxing fans would be delighting in a unification bout between WBC junior featherweight champ Abner Mares (Golden Boy) and his WBO counterpart Nonito Donaire (Top Rank). But nooooo. In fairness, Golden Boy’s CEO Richard Schaefer did make an offer, but neither “The Filipino Flash” nor Top Rank CEO Bob Arum found the terms to their liking.

Granted, there will indeed be a unification battle at the 122-pound level—Donaire is slated to take on WBA titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux on April 13. A good fight, to be sure, but Donaire vs. Mares would have been better. And speaking of the Mexican, a frustrated Mares has vacated his title in order to move up to the featherweight division. Although an opponent has yet to be named, a match with WBC beltholder Daniel Ponce De Leon—whose next opponent, Jayson Velez, just withdrew from their March 2 bout at the Apollo Theater—is a real possibility.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs) turned pro in 2005. Undefeated, he drew against Yonnhy Perez in 2010. He fought twice last year, defeating Eric Morel in April and Anselmo Moreno in November, both by unanimous decision. Mares is a two-division titleholder. He won the IBO bantamweight title in his match with Vic Darchinyan in 2010, as well as the IBF bantamweight strap from Joseph Agbeko in the first of their two bouts in 2011. As for the recently relinquished WBC junior featherweight title, which had been vacant, Mares won that in his April 2012 match with Morel.

Also a Mexican, 32-year-old Ponce De Leon (44-4-0, 35 KOs) is a 12-year pro. He fought three times last year, defeating Omar Estrella in January by sixth-round KO, Eduardo Lazcano in May by unanimous decision, and Jhonny Gonzalez in September by eighth-round technical decision. The southpaw won the vacant WBO junior featherweight title in his bout with Sod Kokietgym in 2005 (which he lost to Juan Manuel Lopez in 2008). More recently, Ponce De Leon took home the WBC featherweight championship in his September 2012 bout with Gonzalez.

A tough one to call. Ponce De Leon is more experienced, and his KO record of 73% is superior to Mares’ 50%. In addition, Mares is coming up in weight. But he’s done it before, and very successfully, having started off as a bantam. And let’s not discount that Mares is easily the dirtiest fighter since the deservedly maligned Andrew Golota, a fact to which Agbeko, for instance, is eminently qualified to testify. Ah, to stick Mares in a time machine, to let him try that on with fellow featherweights Sandy Saddler or Willie Pep, guys who raised dirty fighting to an art form, to a science. Fortunately for Mares, H.G. Wells’ mechanism is only a dream—and Ponce De Leon ain’t no Saddler or Pep.

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  1. Clarence George 04:13am, 02/13/2013

    Good points, Nicolas.

    Remember when Henry Armstrong would have reigned in four divisions (if not cheated of his win against middleweight champ Ceferino Garcia) when there were only eight weight classes?  When he defended his welterweight title twice in 12 days?  Twelve days!

    And, yes, the Top Rank-Golden Boy feud is a disgrace, and disastrous for the sport.

  2. nicolas 11:21pm, 02/12/2013

    I would have to favor Mares in this fight. I think he may have earned his place as a top ten fighter, also these weight divisions are a joke, it is not like in the days when Jose Legra, Ruben Olivares, or even fighting Harada went from Bantamweight to featherweight. It is really amazing though that these fights can’t be made. Donaire-Mares was a natural for a big fight, but it was predicted that since they are under the same promotional arm, it would be Donaire-Rigondeaux. Fighters sadly are treated as commodities, when they lose there value goes down, and there money making potential is looked upon that same way. Part of the problem is that they don’t fight so much as in the past, so a loss in considered much worse then it used to be.

  3. Clarence George 03:15pm, 02/12/2013

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Bodyshots.

    I usually have a firm prediction in mind, but not so with Mares vs. Ponce De Leon.  We agree that it’s a tough one to call.  But, unlike you, I’m not prepared to give the edge to Ponce De Leon…or Mares.

    Where we disagree pertains to Mares as a dirty fighter.  Is he skilled at it or stylish about it?  Not at all.  His approach to the unorthodox is crude and one-dimensional, which is exactly what makes it so godawful. 

  4. Bodyshots 02:47pm, 02/12/2013

    Mares v. Ponce is a tough one to call. a lot tougher than Ponce v. Juan Lopez. the weight is a factor but primarily because De Leon has had more time to acclimate himself to feather. otherwise, i believe he’s maxed-out at 126lbs. Ponce has improved as a boxer but those improvements aren’t necessarily applicable to a straight-ahead inside fighter like Mares. in which case, De Leon may have to lapse back into his own KO-punching style to defeat Mares. accordingly, i give the edge to De Leon. meanwhile, i would have to be convinced that Mares’ “fouling” is intentional before i would claim or concede that he is “easily” the dirtiest fighter in the sport. he would also have to demonstrate a much more creative and expanded repertoire of dirty tactics beyond a sometimes reckless body attack to merit this distinction, e.g., elbows, holding, leaning, grappling, kidney punch, hitting on the break, hitting after the bell, etc. otherwise, accusing Mares of “easily”(?) being the dirtiest fighter in the sport is premature and unfounded at best.

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