Abner Mares has definitely made his case as an elite fighter since 2010, fighting top competition at bantamweight and emerging there as a top talent, followed by further title wins at 122 and 126 pounds. Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer believes that the 27-year-old fighter is in fact the second-best boxer in the world today, trailing only the great Floyd Mayweather.
Here's what Schaefer said about it:
"You have Andre Ward, a tremendous fighter who I respect a great deal. He won the super middleweight tournament on Showtime. Abner won the Showtime Bantamweight tournament. Look what Abner has done since then, and look what Andre Ward has done since then. It's no question who has accomplished more."
... "Mayweather is the clear #1 fighter in the world. After that, it's my opinion that Abner Mares is the clear #2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world."
Mares (26-0-1, 14 KO) has racked up wins over Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko (twice) at bantamweight; Anselmo Moreno at super bantamweight; and Daniel Ponce De Leon at featherweight. It does need to be fairly noted that Mares' two-fight stint at 122 pounds saw him facing a washed-up flyweight (Eric Morel) and a natural bantamweight (Moreno), but the latter win was totally legit; it's not as if Moreno fought poorly or looked absurd at 122 or anything. Moreno fought pretty well, he just lost to a better fighter in Mares. And Abner's move up to 126 was no issue, as he overpowered a strong, credible fighter in Ponce De Leon. Abner will face Jhonny Gonzalez on August 24 in his first 126-pound title defense.
Personally, I wouldn't have Abner number two in the world, but I do think this is a guy who deserves to be in the discussion for the top five, as one of the world's elite boxers. He's kept a very tough schedule and been highly successful. There is no doubt that the guy can fight for real -- there's no fluff to him or his record. He's earned his praise.
Where would you have Mares?