Record: 30-2-1 (15 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'4½" / 66" ... Age: 31
Thoughts: No longer a Hungry Young Lion, Abner Mares is, in fact, a veteran titleholder at 126 pounds, set to defend the WBA “world” title he won last December from Jesus Cuellar.
As mentioned in yesterday’s Santa Cruz-Avalos matchup, and as you surely know by now anyway, this isn’t the card anyone wanted. Santa Cruz-Mares II was discussed and expected, and then it fell through, and here we are with a couple of tune-up fights instead.
Mares’ win over Cuellar is his only fight since his August 2015 loss to Santa Cruz, but it was a good win, a strong performance that surprised those who felt that Mares might be getting a little long in the tooth to compete at the highest level anymore. It was his first true quality win since his 2013 defeat of Daniel Ponce De Leon, which preceded his stunning KO loss to Jhonny Gonzalez that August.
So Mares is no longer a youngster in the game, but last we saw him, he could still go. He’s a three-division world champion, generally entertaining to watch, and has had a really nice career. That said, he is at a stage in that career where some matchups he seemingly should win can become trap fights. The question is whether or not Andres Gutierrez is good enough to pull the upset.
Record: 35-1-1 (25 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'6" / 67" ... Age: 24
Thoughts: Gutierrez has youth and a bit of height on his side in this fight, and his one loss came in June 2016 to Cristian Mijares, a majority decision in a fight where Gutierrez missed weight.
This will be his first world title shot, and also his first fight in a year. After the loss to Mijares, he returned in October 2016 to defeat Wallington Orobio via sixth round TKO in Mexico, and that’s the last time he entered the ring.
Gutierrez has talent, but this is a big step up for him. He’s a former WBC “silver” champion at 122 pounds, and he doesn’t have any big wins that say much for his pretty paper record. As always, that doesn’t mean he can’t fight at the level, it just means it’s an open question.
Matchup Grade: C-. Could be better, could be worse. We’ll have to see what happens. There’s just not enough on Gutierrez’s sheet to go by in this sense, and the biggest problems on paper are that and the fact that this is a much lesser fight than what was hoped for in the first place.