Abner Mares is still looking to finalize his next fight, and Top Rank's Bob Arum says that to get at the big dogs in the division, he'll have to fight on HBO. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
WBC super bantamweight titlist Abner Mares was reportedly set to return on August 25 in Mexico against Christian Esquivel, but that won't be happening, as Mares' team has denied that as their next fight.
Mares (24-0-1, 13 KO) is on a terrific run of wins, having gained belts at 118 and 122 pounds, but he's now in a spot where the only really good fight to make for him is probably with Anselmo Moreno, the world's current top bantamweight, and a guy who would be a very dangerous matchup for him.
But Bob Arum did speak with BoxingScene.com's Jake Donovan about his fighter, Nonito Donaire, and possibly facing Mares down the line. Donaire, of course, is with Top Rank, while Mares is with Golden Boy. This along is enough to thwart most fantasy matchups, but we did see Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Daniel Ponce De Leon last year, as the companies both found themselves with little to do otherwise. So could we see Donaire-Mares at some point? Sure, but Arum says it has to be on HBO.
"It’s not a question of Top Rank or Golden Boy, but it’s the fact that HBO has embraced Nonito and this entire division and that’s where the future is. ... Mares is there. But he’s got to cut the apron strings and be willing to fight in this whole series of important fights on the premiere network, HBO which is behind and knows how great this division is."
Arum says he and HBO are working on fights involving Guillermo Rigondeaux, Toshiaki Nishioka, and Jorge Arce, as well as Donaire, who fights Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7.
I do think there's sort of a line being drawn in the sand in some ways here -- Top Rank seems to be leaning toward HBO, with Golden Boy starting to shift guys over to Showtime. Canelo Alvarez is even headed to Showtime for his next fight, and we're talking about a legit star who brings in ratings for HBO. It's not a Pacquiao to Showtime move like we saw last year, but it's also a hell of a lot more significant than Devon Alexander to Showtime.
Oddly, it was that Pacquiao Showtime PPV last year that many believe was the final straw at HBO and sent Ross Greenburg packing. He was eventually replaced by Ken Hershman, who had done more with less at Showtime for a while, and then Hershman was replaced by Stephen Espinoza, a former GBP lawyer and possibly a guy who attends Al Haymon's bi-weekly rock climbing and outdoor Texas hold 'em poker outing and always brings the best potato salad.
It's been an interesting year for boxing TV politics crap in the States, and frankly, I know some questionable decisions have been made, and I stand by some of the complaints I've had as a viewer, and I'll have more, but overall I feel like both networks are having pretty strong years, sometimes in spite of themselves, and sometimes in spite of fights falling apart on them. Maybe it's just me, but it feels like the in-ring product has been pretty damn good this year for the most part.
Anyway, if Golden Boy runs out of things for Mares to do, I actually wouldn't count out him fighting Donaire, despite the TR-GBP issues. They're all very petty and pick at each other, but when they have to, they'll work together.