Maybe I am just being overly optimistic, but I actually believe this fight could happen. This is the one that I believe could at least temporarily thaw the Golden Boy-Top Rank cold war.
Nonito Donaire has been in most people's pound-for-pound top five since his dramatic KO of Ferdinand Montiel in February of 2011. Abner Mares, meanwhile, has worked his way onto many top-10 lists by remaining undefeated against a murderer's row of tough opposition since 2010: Yonnhy Perez (a draw), Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (twice), Eric Morel and Anselmo Moreno.
In a rational world without feuding promoters, these two would already have fought. Their respective journeys from bantamweight up to junior featherweight have run along parallel tracks.
Donaire fights fellow Top Rank fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba later this month. While that fight is in no way a sure thing, if the Filipino Flash prevails once more, he will suddenly find worthy opponents in short supply.
His current division, 122 pounds, will be played out, and there is a logjam above him at featherweight, where two of the world titles are already held by fighters handled by Robert Garcia, Donaire's own trainer. A showdown with the undefeated, longtime WBA featherweight champ Chris John of Indonesia would certainly attract interest, especially in Asia and the Pacific region.
But it would not generate anywhere close to the enthusiasm that a superfight with Mares would excite. Mares-Donaire would be a matchup between two of the most exciting fighters in the pound-for-pound top 10, both of them in their prime.
Mares has never made any secret about wanting to fight Donaire, and so long as he survives Rigondeaux this month, I expect Donaire to reciprocate the feeling. Who else is there for him?
As a fight, this one would be exciting. Mares is the kind of fighter who goes to war.
Ultimately, I am not sure how competitive it would end up being over the course of 12 rounds. Donaire's ring vision, reflexes and explosive power would make him a very dangerous opponent for an all-action, come forward fighter like Mares.
Still, Mares, though extremely physical, is hardly an unrefined brawler. I'd rate him as having the most brutal body attack in the lower divisions, and that could allow him to slow down the nimble Donaire and take something off from his always dangerous lead hook.