The Staples Center in Los Angeles will be host to a fantastic super bantamweight clash. WBC champion Abner Mares will defend his title against Anselmo Moreno on Saturday night.
Mares is 24-0 with 13 KOs in his career. He has long been considered one of the sport's best and brightest stars. This is yet another opportunity for Mares to show his brilliance. His challenge is not a simple one, though.
Moreno is a slick, defensive wizard and the owner of a nearly unblemished record. At 33-1 with 12 KOs, he doesn't bring power as a main weapon, but his movement and jab is an issue for almost every opponent.
The one blemish on his record is really insignificant at this point because it took place 10 years ago. Moreno was still fighting four-round fights at the time.
This a fight features two elite 122-pounders, but it could be the precursor to an even bigger fight. Mares has the name recognition, and he dreams of a unification bout with Nonito Donaire, per The Ring Magazine, but the Top Rank-Golden Boy feud may block that fight.
Before he can think too heavily on that potential superfight, he must first handle this very formidable foe.
Here's how you can catch the action:
When: Saturday, November 10, 10 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
The Book on Mares
Tale of the Tape (per BoxRec.com)
Weight: 119.5 lbs. vs. Eric Morel in April
Mares reminds me a lot of a smaller Amir Khan. They are both clean, quick and accurate in close with combinations, but the differences are simple. Mares has a much better chin and Khan has more power—proportionately speaking.
Like Khan, Mares' warrior instinct entices him to trade on the inside, though he doesn't have the same bite on his punches; he is more equipped to withstand the punishment he makes himself susceptible to.
Along with great combination punching, Mares loves to work the body. That was never more apparent than it was in his first bout with Joseph Agbeko. That fight was marred by poor officiating, as Mares' body work was south of the border several times; it did show his commitment to mixing up his attack.
The blows didn't look intentional, but he still deserved to have points deducted because of the frequency.
Check out the highlights:
Mares has heart, and he is well-trained. He shows great composure—even when he's hurt, or he has his opponent dazed. His overall skill level is elite.
Mares fights like a fighter that brings more TNT in the ring than he does.
Against powerful opponents, this could be a major issue. He doesn't always move his head enough and he tends to concentrate too much on his offense. Because of these flaws, he is open for the big shot during exchanges—and off of feints.
The lack of head movement could be a jabber's dream, as could his tendency to cut. He suffered lacerations in both Agbeko fights; this is something to watch as his career moves forward.
Against Moreno, patience will be the key. Mares wants to bang, but that isn't Moreno's fight.
He knows he can't beat Mares in that type of bout. The champion will have to apply the pressure by walking forward, cutting off angles and by looking for opportunities to counter.
Though Moreno is stepping up in weight, he is taller and has the longer reach.
Mares must show more head movement in this fight as Moreno is almost certain to try to use his jab and movement to outpoint him. Mares' major challenge will be handling Moreno's length, elusiveness and his southpaw stance.
It is a combination that could be troubling if Mares doesn't show patience.
The Book on Moreno
Tale of the Tape (per BoxRec.com)
Weight: 117.5 lbs. vs. David De La Mora in April
Moreno uses his wide stance, height, arm length and skill to keep opponents at a distance. Many fans don't like his style as Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports attests, but it has certainly been effective.
He controls tempo as well as any fighter in the lower weight classes.
Because he doesn't pack a huge punch, he has devised an approach that maximizes his unique abilities. Rarely will you see a fighter at this weight class with the ability to use length the Moreno does.
Slick defense is also a staple of Moreno's repertoire. He slips punches with a variety of head movement and ducking. Even if he's dazed, it is very difficult to land multiple shots on him.
Take a look at this clip of Moreno against Nehomar Cermeno:
The only real weakness in Moreno's game is his lack of power. Although he can completely control the tempo of a bout, he is susceptible to the fight-changing blow from his opponent.
He's been in the ring with big punchers like Vic Darchinyan—whom he beat soundly in December of 2011—and he has withstood their charge. Because it is so difficult to hit him flush, he creates very small windows for his opponents to expose him.
Who will win this fight?
Keep the jab in Mares' face, but he must mix that punch in with the occasional hard left and uppercuts. Mares will have to go low to evade the jab; Moreno's uppercut could be the second most important punch in this fight.
Using his jab and his reach could frustrate Mares and reopen the cuts he's suffered in the Agbeko fights.
I commend Mares for taking this fight because this is no simple task.
He obviously wants Donaire, but Moreno is a speed bump that will turn into a pot hole. I see Moreno outboxing, frustrating and bruising Mares' face in this bout.
Whether the judges award him the decision is a different story, but Moreno should win this fight by unanimous decision.
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