LOS ANGELES, CA — Showtime Sports delivered an excellent fight card last night capped off by a rough and tumble barnburner of a main event between Abner Mares and Anselmo Moreno at the Staples Center. Once again, Mares passed a stiff test and afterward did what we yearn for all top fighters do — he challenged the best fighter in his divsion to a unification match.
ABNER MARES UD12 ANSELMO MORENO: Mares vowed to make Moreno “uncomfortable” and pressure him, but I don’t think anyone envisioned the “bull in a china shop” offense Mares displayed for the majority of the fight. Mares was an animal; he cared nothing about accuracy, but made sure all his punches were landing somewhere on Moreno, who struggled to gain any type of distance to work his counters. Mares would bang the body with 4-5 punches at a time. And even though Moreno had good defense in picking off a lot of shots, the sheer volume from Mares ensured many were getting through and wearing him down.
Whenever Mares would take a breather, Moreno accuracy would shine. At mid and long range, Moreno would snap back Mares’ head with his southpaw staight left and right jabs. The problem for Moreno is that Mares, clearly the bigger man, could take this punches and would explode with flurries to push Moreno back on his heels. Mares began finding the range with the overhand and straight right and hurt Moreno for the first knockdown of his career in the fifth. At that point, Moreno was only saved by the bell and appeared to be on the way out of there.
Moreno took another pasting in the sixth, but hung tough and started landing big hooks with both hands in the seventh. Moreno’s best opportunity to score a KO came in the eighth when he stunned Mares with a heavy left hook. Mares went to the ropes for the first time and Moreno, although still cautious of a trap, teed off with a series of power shots to take the round despite a late Mares flurry.
Moreno finished strong in the championship rounds but lost a key point in the 11th for holding down Mares’s head. It was a bullshit call, especially considering the roughhouse tactics exhibited by Mares the entire fight (low blows, forearms, leading with his head). Moreno had won that round on my card but had to settle for 9-9 round with the deduction.
In the end, the fifth round knockdown and Mares’ dominance over the first half of the fight was enough to get him 116-110 scores on two cards (believable), and a ridiculous 120-106 score on the other card. I had it closer to the Showtime team’s scores of 114-112.
Mares made it clear in his post-fight interview that he wanted Nonito Donaire next and implored him and Top Rank to not let politics prevent an excellent fight. I have no doubt Mares is sincere; just a look at his track record over the last few years shows he wants to fight only the best. Donaire, unless he finally gets “excited” to face stablemate Guillermo Rigondeaux, has only this fight to take if he wants to remain credible at super bantamweight. Sadly, I have little faith that Golden Boy and Top Rank can put aisde their differencs to make it happen. If they do, I’d favor Donaire since I think he’s the guy, if anyone does have it at super bantamweight, that has enough power and accuracy to hurt Mares repeatedly.
LEO SANTA CRUZ TKO9 VICTOR ZALETA: What a bruising fight. Santa Cruz reminds me a little of Antonio Margarito the way he walks down fighters and works the body. What bodes better for Santa Cruz’s career is that his defense is a little better with his tight guard. That left hook he throws to the body is very effective. Zaleta gave it his all but Santa Cruz was just too big and powerful. The idea of Santa Cruz and Mares fighting, which the Showtime team was hyping, is salivating should Donaire not come to the table for Mares. Believe it or not, Mares actually weighs more than Santa Cruz at the moment. How Mares would adjust his strategy to a bigger and stronger fighter is intriguing.