By Rick Assad
Abner Mares is a highly-skilled and likeable featherweight with a fan-friendly boxing style.
Mares bounced back into the fans’ good graces with a strong performance against Jonathan Oquendo last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena after a unanimous decision on the undercard of the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara non-title bout.
Getting back on track was critical for Mares, who suffered a first-round knockout by Jhonny Gonzalez in his last outing at the StubHub Center in August 2013.
Though it’s only one fight, Mares seemed to have righted the ship despite getting his left eye lid cut in the fourth round by Oquendo, who has a record of 24-4-0 with 16 knockouts.
Still, Mares was the aggressor throughout the 10-round skirmish and was rewarded with scores of 98-92 from Judges Adalaide Byrd and Burt A. Clements, while Glenn Feldman had it 96-94.
“I think I did good,” said Mares, a three-weight division world champion, who raised his ring mark to 27-1-1 with 14 knockouts. “I’m happy with my performance. I’ll fight any featherweight.”
There was back-and-forth action from the opening bell, and especially in the first and third rounds, but not so much in the second round.
The fifth round was tight with the edge perhaps going to Oquendo, who landed 24 percent of his power blows, while the tide changed in the next round as Mares, who connected on 49 percent of his power shots, seemed to gather himself.
Mares took over late in the seventh round when he attacked Oquendo’s body, and took the same approach across the next three rounds that saw him land a big right hand with less than a minute left in the ninth round.
Francisco Vargas punched and battered his way to a technical knockout victory over Juan Manuel Lopez in a World Boxing Organization International and North American Boxing Federation lightweight title match, as he dropped the one-time champ with 20 seconds left in the third round.
“I knew he was hurt, but I know he’s a warrior,” said Vargas, who is 20-0-1 with 14 knockouts. “My corner was making preparations to be able to knock him out. I won by throwing combo punches to Lopez’s body. Once I did that I knew he had lost control.”
Vargas made easy work of Lopez from the outset, who failed to get off his stool for the fourth round because his team stopped the fight.
“I wanted to keep fighting,” said Lopez, who is 34-4-0 with 31 knockouts. “I’m a warrior. But my corner decided it was enough. I really don’t know right now if I’m going to retire. I have to sit down with my family and my promoter and decide what the next step will be.”
It wasn’t totally one-sided, but Mauricio Herrera still managed to walk away with a majority decision versus Johan Perez in a World Boxing Association Interim super-lightweight battle.
The early portion of the bash was tight, but Herrera (21-4-0 with 7 KO’s) took over in the sixth round with multiple power shots.
“It was different at first because he had a very awkward style,” said Herrera. “It took me a minute to figure it out and he was making me miss a lot of shots at first. But once I relaxed and adjusted to the awkward style, I was able to get into a rhythm, take control of the fight and put pressure on him.”
Perez (19-2-1 and 13 KO’s) said he did well despite the loss. “I felt that Mauricio had a different style and that it was a close fight,” he said. “Ultimately, I felt that I won the fight. I am really surprised by the decision and I want an immediate rematch.”