On Tuesday afternoon KING J, Bleacher Report's Boxing Community Leader/Featured Columnist, contacted undefeated rising star Abner Mares just days before the biggest fight of his life—this Saturday, August 13, with IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas—to conduct an exclusive interview.
The winner of this fight is the winner of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament and most likely the next poster boy for the Showtime network.
The following is the exclusive interview with Abner Mares:
KING J: Let's get the tough question out of the way: How has your life changed since doing the now famous King J Exclusive YouTube Interview? I know based on the feedback I got, a lot of people were able to hear more about your back story and life because of watching that video.
Abner Mares: Yeah, it came out tremendously. Thank you for putting up that video, and a lot of people recognize me from that video and they know about my life now, they know what I went through and where I come from, and now it's good to get their support.
KING J: Absolutely. During the media phone conference call last week, you said that this training camp was even better than your last one back in spring when you were supposed to initially fight. I was concerned about you over-training and peaking too early. Are these concerns seeing that you went from such a hard-core camp in the spring without fighting and then going right back into another hard training camp? Did your body have the proper rest and relaxation it needed?
Abner Mares: Not at all. Not whatsoever, [but it's] no concern because I took some time off with the family and rested. We got back to business, we finally got a date August 13. Now I have an even stronger desire to fulfill my dream and I can't wait and it will show August 13.
KING J: This fight was initially scheduled to be at Nokia Theater in L.A., now it is, of course, at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. How do you feel about the more neutral location for the fight?
Abner Mares: It feels great. It's good in one sense, but of course I was looking forward to the fight being here in L.A., I'm a local boy here and it would have been great for all the local boys coming out, but Vegas is OK. You can never go wrong with Vegas. Vegas is Vegas, baby. I'm headlining the card there, [so] what else can I ask for?
KING J: Speaking of L.A., I hate to compare Southern California to Northern California, but it seems L.A. is lacking that big superstar fighter right now. I mean you see the Bay Area has so much representation going hard right now from Donaire, Guerrero, Ward, etc., and what's even more impressive is how they all support one another. L.A. of course has their fighters, but no one really that big representing right now how the Bay is and how they all come together. What are your thoughts on that?
Abner Mares: You know, what I kinda see what you are saying on that with the difference between Nor Cal and Southern Cal. There are some fighters who instead of supporting one another think they are better than each other. I think that's wrong, we should all support each other. I have a group of boxer friends who are actually fighting on the card. Frank Espinoza's boys like Carlos Molina, Luis Ramos, David Rodela. We got a lot of California boys coming out to support as well and I got their friendship as well.
KING J: Your fans want to know who you sparred with during this camp besides Esquivias?
Abner Mares: You know I had tremendous sparring partners. I had Raul Hirales, Charles Huerta, Effrain Esquivias, also this amateur standout, Jessie, who is really fast in the last two weeks with his speed. Charles Huerta really helped me out in the first week. These guys are 122, 125 pounders and we are all getting ready for our fights. I felt good, I felt strong and they gave me a lot of motivation.
KING J: One thing I noticed about you is for the most part you do not have any haters yet. If you search the Internet, fight forums, social networks, etc., you don't really have any haters hating on you. It may be because you are humble, down to earth, talented and likable. But let's keep it real: Everyone's got haters, even Mayweather, Pacquiao, the Klitschkos, etc. Isn't that a bit odd especially in this day and age?
Abner Mares: I don't know. I have no idea (laughing). It feels great that I don't have haters...but there will be one day. I mean I don't have any hatred towards no one. I always thank you guys for the tremendous support, and, you know, I'm just a family man and a guy who boxes and that's it. I stay away from the drama outside of the ring. I'm blessed that people recognize that and we're just here for fun. I'm here to box, not talk bad about anyone. I just want to do my best in boxing and put on a great performance.
KING J: Another thing I noticed is in a sport where everyone has a moniker, you don't have one? Why is that? Also I think I can come up with a good one if you give me some time.
Abner Mares: (Laughing) You know, when I fight, people think Abner is my nickname and not my real name. So I don't have a ring name yet, but I'm sure someone will come up with one. And if not I think Abner Mares is good name. I like my name. Maybe one day they'll name me after my signature punch, like "left-hook man" or something (laughing). I am open to anything, but if not, again, I like my name and if it ends up just being that, it's always good to have just your name.
KING J: Your last fight against Darchinyan was a bit ugly. Many thought your body shots were a bit low on the belt, but personally I was fine with it, especially since he was constantly trying to push you down, it seemed. Toward the later rounds, you found your groove and it seemed your superior technical talent took over to win the fight. Based on your last fight and your back-to-back training camps, what kind of Abner shows up against Agbeko?
Abner Mares: Those low blows you were talking about were right on the line. Sometimes those shots might end up going a little lower, but again it wasn't my fault cause he kept pushing me down and he's a southpaw and that's always going to be a messy fight. But I know I'm not a dirty fighter, and in the end I got the victory. And like I said, the experience will definitely show on August 13.
KING J: Speaking of low blows, I have to tease you a bit about that scientific study you did on punching the testicles. What was that exactly about? One of your fans actually linked me to the episode.
Abner Mares: (Laughing) Yeah, it was a show on Fox Sports called "Fox Sports Science" and they were showing how powerful an effect a low blow has. So they had me punch a model dummy in the crotch area to determine how much power and damage my punch had, and they determined I was an expert at low blows (laughing). But that was done, I think, in 2007. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot of recognition from that show.
KING J: But how did this idea even come about and how the hell did they chose you?
Abner Mares: I don't know, man, I guess they just come up with different shows (laughing) and they were trying to show the effects of the illegal blows like rabbit punches and stuff.
KING J: You told me back in April and you still have been saying you want a few more fights at 118 before moving up. Are you looking to unify at 118 or just go for the big money fights or, of course, both? If it was...
Abner Mares: ...You know what, I am not looking ahead of this fight with Agbeko. It's a tough fight. It's going to be a war. I can't wait. Me and him have an equal shot at winning. I have to look great in this fight and win this fight, then I can move up to 122 or stay and fight any of the top bantamweights out there.
KING J: So the hard camp is done and it's fight week. What are some rituals that you do in this final week since there is no hard training going on?
Abner Mares: Just spend time with my family. My wife's pregnant right now, [and] the baby's due next month. I also spend time with my 5-year-old daughter, I'm a family man and love spending time with the family. Watching cartoons with my daughter. But I can't stop thinking about this amazing opportunity ahead of me on August 13.
KING J: Alright, bro. Thanks for taking the time as always to talk, I know you are in the middle of something so I'll just see you Saturday. Best of luck, and we'll grab some Red Lobster after this one as usual (laughing).
Abner Mares: (Laughing) I got you, bro! Thanks to all the media and fans supporting and thanks for this interview. I appreciate you putting my name out there. Alright, bro, I'll see you Saturday at the fight. To everyone, if you can make it, August 13 at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. Abner Mares is going to make it happen and become the new bantamweight champion.
King J is a Featured Columnist and Community Leader for Bleacher Report's boxing section.
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KingJ323