When Abner Mares entered the ring last August to make his first defense of the WBC Featherweight Belt against Jhonny Gonzalez, Mares was the overwhelming favorite. After less than one round and a barrage of Gonzalez left hooks, Gonzalez exited the ring with the belt and Mares's "0". Following his first professional loss, an immediate rematch was scheduled for February of this year and then canceled because Mares suffered a rib injury during training camp. Since then, Mares has scrapped plans for an immediate rematch against Gonzalez, and turned down fights against Mike Oliver and Takashi Miura. On Saturday, Mares (24(14)-1(1)-1) will face off against Jonathan Oquendo (24(16)-3(2) ) in the co-feature bout of the the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara Showtime PPV card.
This will be Mare's first fight under the tutelage of trainer Virgil Hunter, who is best known for working Andre Ward. Hunter was brought in to work on Mares's defense:
"That is one of the top reasons why we are here and we needed that," Mares said. "That was shown even in the fight before the Ponce fight (against Moreno). I think I boxed somewhat good, but still was getting caught with some punches. So, there's still room for progress, there's still room for learning. I feel like I've done so much yet I can do some more."
Though Mares has not ruled out avenging his loss to Gonzalez down the line, he is focused on Oquendo.
"This fight is no walk in the park. Jonathan is a warrior and that's why I trained very hard," he said. "I'm here to make a statement."
Oquendo has more tallied more knockouts (16) than Mares (14), but Mares has more wins over quality opponents- Daniel Ponce De Leon (TKO9), Anselmo Moreno (UD12), Eric Morel (UD12), Joseph Agbeko (MD12, UD12), Vic Darchinyan (SD12). Oquendo was knocked out against his best two opponents- Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr., and Juan Manuel Lopez.