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Abner Mares vs. Jhonny Gonzalez: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2013

Abner Mares vs. Jhonny Gonzalez: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    The WBC Featherweight Championship will be on the line this Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, as champion Abner Mares defends against former champion Jhonny Gonzalez.

    Mares jumped from super bantamweight to featherweight earlier this year, and he won the title by defeating Daniel Ponce de Leon on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Guerrero. It was an extremely impressive performance against a rugged and dangerous foe.

    Gonzalez is a former WBC featherweight champion in his own right. He dropped the title to Ponce de Leon in a bloody fight back in 2012. Since then he's defeated low-level opposition, and will need to turn back the clock to regain the title.

    Read on for our complete preview and prediction for this Saturday's huge title fight.

Tale of the Tape

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    Abner Mares will be making just his second appearance since moving up from super bantamweight to featherweight earlier this year. He will be giving up a couple of inches in height to Gonzalez and a possibly significant three-and-a-half inches in reach.

    Since both guys prefer to keep the fight at close quarters that might not be as big a deal as it may seem on paper, but it still counts for something.

    Gonzalez is clearly the more powerful puncher, as evidenced by his very respectable knockout percentage, and he'll look to come right at Mares from the opening bell. That style works just fine for the champion who, despite not being graced with one-punch knockout power, throws a very high volume of punches.

     

    Record:

    Abner Mares

    26-0-1, 14 KO

    Jhonny Gonzalez

    54-8, 46 KO

    Height:

    5'4 1/2"

    5'7"

    Reach:

    66"

    69.5"

    Weight:

    126 (last fight)

    125.5 (last fight)

    Stance:

    Orthodox

    Orthodox

    Hometown:

    Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

    Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico

    Rounds:

    202

    302

    *Profiles via BoxRec.

     

Main Storylines

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    Abner Mares will be making the first defense of his newly won WBC featherweight crown against a man who used to hold that very same title. There were some legitimate questions about how Mares would handle the increased power of the men he faced at 126 pounds.

    But he passed them with flying colors when he won the title in May. There are few fighters at featherweight who hit harder than Daniel Ponce de Leon, and Mares handled his shots well. In fact it was the smaller man who scored the only knockdowns in the fight.

    Mares will be looking for a big performance in this fight. He has the potential to be a star, but he needs more excitement and more big wins like he'll look to get against Gonzalez.

    Jhonny Gonzalez is about as tough as they come, but he hasn't been in the ring with an opponent of Mares' caliber since losing his strap to Ponce de Leon in late 2012. Since then he's beaten two low-level opponents, but he'll need to channel his older self if he wants to compete with Mares.

    He has one of those records that can be a tad deceiving. Gonzalez has lost eight times as a professional, but four of those came within his first 18 fights, and he dropped the first two fights of his career.

    Gonzalez is extremely physically strong, and he has great power. He'll come to fight and even when he goes down, he goes down swinging.

Strengths

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    Abner Mares is a straight-up pressure fighter. He likes to spend the entire fight right in his opponent's chest, and has frequently been criticized for his dirty tactics, which have included low-blows, rabbit punches and basically anything else you can think up. Putting it simply, he likes to rough you up.

    While on the inside, he works the body as well as—if not better than—anybody in the business. Thus far in his career, he's used his aggression and body work to defeat a veritable who's who of elite fighters in the lower weight classes, and his fights are always exciting.

    One of Mares' most underrated characteristics, and one that will definitely be tested in this fight, is his chin. He's taken some huge shots—one of the perils of being an aggressive fighter—and handled them pretty well.

    Jhonny Gonzalez is extremely physically strong, and he hits with a tremendous amount of power on his punches. With 46 of his 54 wins coming inside the distance, that is something Mares will need to account for in the ring.

    He has a tremendous amount of experience, but some would say that he's been through the ringer a few too many times at this point in his career. Like the champion, he's highly aggressive and likes to fight with a high level of aggression.

    Gonzalez is fighting for one last shot at glory. He has to figure that he might not get another chance if he doesn't find a way to unseat Mares, and that's a powerful motivator.

Weaknesses

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    Abner Mares isn't a power-puncher by any means. He's more of an accumulator, who throws a very high volume of punches in order to frustrate and break down his opponent.

    He spends virtually the entire fight at close quarters, but when he lets his hands go he is often open to incoming shots fired back his way. This sometimes makes his job harder than it would be if he was graced with serious punching power. 

    He has been knocked down in his career—against Vic Darchinyan in 2010—and suffered cuts in both of his wins over Joseph Agbeko. He'll need to be smart, and careful, against the power-punching Gonzalez or else he could get caught.

    Jhonny Gonzalez has a reputation for toughness, but there are more than a few whispers out there that he might be a little too shopworn at this point. He's fought 62 times in his 14-year professional career, and he's been through his share of wars and brutal fights.

    The former champion spent much of his career fighting at 118 and 122 pounds, and that's where most of his impressive victories were. His list of accomplishments at featherweight is far less impressive, and he'll likely struggle with Mares' constant pressure and more than likely a few fouls.

Abner Mares Will Win If...

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    Abner Mares will win this fight if he's able to successfully execute what makes him Abner Mares, and that's getting on the inside and going to work with a high volume of punches and a devastating body assault.

    By attacking the body early in the fight, he should be able to sap a fair amount of Gonzalez's will to continue on. The 31-year-old former world champion has been around the block a few times, and it's questionable how much he'll be able to handle.

    If Mares gets on the inside early, avoids the challenger's power shots and goes to work to the body, he should have no problem winning this fight going away.

Jhonny Gonzalez Will Win If...

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    Jhonny Gonzalez will need to make his power advantage the determining factor in this fight if he hopes to win. That's much easier said than done.

    Luckily for him, Mares has been known to leave his chin exposed while going to work on the inside, and if Gonzalez can connect with some big punches he definitely has a puncher's chance.

    Other than that it's hard to see how he'll cope with a younger, fresher opponent who will come at him with fists flailing from the opening bell. Mares has proven to have a good set of whiskers in the past, but he has been knocked down.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Two tough-as-nails, rugged Mexican fighters who love to throw punches in bunches? 

    Sign me up.

    But of the two, Abner Mares is the younger, fresher fighter and he's the one who's still on the upswing of his career. He'll be too aggressive, too strong and too good for Jhonny Gonzalez, who will give a game effort but come up short.

    Mares will attack from the onset, and he'll smother his opponent's offense. There will be many rough-and-tumble rounds, but it'll be the younger champion who has the advantage on the inside. He'll work the body and systematically break his foe down en route to a late-round stoppage. 

    Mares TKO 9 Gonzalez

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