Former three-division champion Abner Mares was set to seek a title in a fourth weight class on Feb. 9, when the 33-year-old fighter was lined up to challenge WBA super featherweight titleholder Gervonta Davis on Showtime.
Mares pulled out of that fight, first claiming an elbow injury, later sharing worse news, that he had suffered a detached retina in sparring and would require surgery.
It’s a legitimately career-threatening injury for a fighter — we’ve seen the same injury take major tolls on Israel Vazquez — who eventually lost his right eye after several surgeries — and Antonio Margarito in recent years.
But Mares (31-3-1, 15 KO) is upbeat right now, as he’s been cleared for boxing training short of actually sparring for the time being.
“Yesterday I went to go see my ophthalmologist, my retina specialist, and I got some really good news,” he said via social media. “I got the green light to start training. I got the green light to start doing my normal activities, meaning I can hit the bag, I can run, I can do all the boxing training, except one thing: I can’t spar yet. No contact in the eye, but that’s a big improvement.
“My eye is really good, as you can see. It’s been a little bit past a month, almost two months since the surgery. It looks good. This is big news for me. I can’t wait. Hopefully soon I’ll be back in the ring.”
Mares said in early February that he wanted to keep fighting, but if doctors recommended he retire, he would be OK with that. For now, he’s cleared the first post-surgery hurdle. Getting back to being able to spar is next, and if all goes well with that, he’ll surely fight on. But there is obviously major risk in continuing, and far from any guarantee that he’ll be the same fighter he was before the injury.
Mares last fought in June 2018, losing a rematch to featherweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz also beat him in Aug. 2015. Between those bouts, Mares picked up wins over Jesus Cuellar and Andres Gutierrez. He’s had a decorated career and achieved quite a bit in the ring, breaking out in 2010 by going to a draw with IBF bantamweight titleholder Yonnhy Perez, followed by a victory against Vic Darchinyan, and then two wins over Joseph Agbeko, gaining his first world title in their initial encounter.
In the downtime away from the ring, Mares has been working as an analyst for PBC studio shows, and it’s seems clear they like him enough that he’s got a second career waiting for him.