On Saturday, May 4, 2013, the WBC Featherweight title changed hands as Abner Mares defeated Daniel Ponce De Leon via TKO in the ninth round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Unfortunately, the ending was controversial, as referee Jay Nady stepped in at a time that some labeled premature.
Although the ending came slightly too soon, it was the only option due to the circumstances surrounding the title fight.
The stoppage came at the 2:20 mark of the ninth round, with both fighters having fought to a relatively even score to that point. With that being said, this wasn't a case of two fighters pounding away on each other and the other owning a slight advantage.
Mere seconds earlier, Mares had knocked Ponce De Leon down for the second time during the fight.
Mares first knocked Ponce De Leon down during the second round, catching him clean with a stiff left hand in the closing seconds. There was no threat of a knockout, but the knockdown did send a message.
Mares was the aggressor, and he was in full control of this fight.
It became even as the middle rounds progressed, with Ponce De Leon managing to get some blows in. When it came down to it, however, Mares was still ahead on the cards come the ninth round.
Just like that, the fight was shifted directly into Mares' favor.
The two had been trading blows, but it was Mares who landed the fight-ending blows.
Mares connected with a destructive right hand, sending the champion straight to the mat. Ponce De Leon managed to get back to his feet, but Mares jumped all over him.
With the champion's back against the ropes, Mares fired off clean shot after clean shot. After being knocked down mere seconds prior and now being rocked again, it appeared as if Ponce De Leon was about to be knocked out.
Before that could happen, Nady stepped in and stopped the fight.
This isn't the first time that Nady has made a controversial stoppage, as Zab Judah infamously assaulted him for what he believed to be a premature ending. With that being said, Nady's premature actions proved to be the right decision in this one.
Ponce De Leon instantly demanded a rematch, but the outcome wasn't altered by the ending to this fight.
Ponce De Leon demands a rematch. That stoppage MIGHT have been a little quick, but Mares was closing and in control. No rematch needed here— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 5, 2013
To put it simply, ending this fight early expedited what was already transpiring.