3 punch combo: Abner Mares impresses, Gary Russell rising, Broner vs. DeMarco preview

Credit: Esther Lin / Showtime
Credit: Esther Lin / Showtime

In this week’s three punch combo I will first examine where Abner Mares fits in the pound for pound rankings following his performance on Saturday night against Anselmo Moreno.  Next, I will look ahead to Adrien Broner’s big test on Saturday against Antonio DeMarco.  And finally, I will examine the career development of Gary Russell Jr. and his next moves following another impressive win against overmatched competition.

Abner Mares Keeps on Impressing

Credit: Esther Lin / Showtime

Abner Mares scored a unanimous decision victory over Anselmo Moreno on Saturday night.  The win by Mares over the very skillful Moreno should significantly raise his pound for pound credentials.

Mares has fought arguably the most grueling schedule in the sport since 2010.  The names on the resume include Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agebko, Eric Morel and now Moreno.  And with the exception of Morel, all of these fighters have been at or close to the top of their game when they faced Mares.

Since he had the draw with Perez in 2010, Mares has won each fight since.  The wins may not have always been the prettiest or most impressive but he found a way to get things done.  At some point in time, after consistently finding a way to defeat elite fighters, credit must be given to Mares.

This win against Moreno may have been Mares’ most impressive.  Moreno is a slick defensive southpaw and very talented boxer who had also began entering many experts pound for pound lists.  Many in the sport, myself included, thought this was a bad fight for Mares to take and one he would ultimately lose.

But Mares got the job done in a very difficult test.  He was able to neutralize Moreno’s boxing skills by staying aggressive throughout and not letting Moreno get going from the outside.  Mares fought the entire fight the way he wanted to fight, and in the end, that earned him the victory.

So given these factors I would confidently move Mares to 6th on my own pound for pound rankings (Mayweather, Ward, Pacquiao, Martinez and Donaire ahead of him).  And if he keeps fighting top notch fighters and winning he will easily crack the top 5 in 2013.

Adrien Broner vs. Antonio DeMarco Preview

Adrien Broner faces Antonio DeMarco on Saturday night in Atlantic City for DeMarco’s Lightweight Championship.  This is a very interesting fight and a fight in which I think the boxing community will learn a lot about Broner. Since his narrow decision victory over Daniel Ponce De Leon in March 2011, Broner has scored a string of knockout victories against overmatched foes. He looked terrific in all of these outing, but questions have remained.

Antonio DeMarco seems to be the kind of opponent who can answer many of these questions. DeMarco is a very technically sound southpaw boxer.  He is a very sharp, accurate puncher and he carries legitimate punching power.  DeMarco has shown in his fights against the late Edwin Valero and Jorge Linares that he can take a good punch and has tremendous heart. And finally, he is a full-fledged Lightweight who Broner is coming up in weight to face.

If Broner is able to blow DeMarco out early we will know that Broner is the real deal. In all likelihood though, Broner is going to be pushed some in this fight. DeMarco won’t be intimidated and Broner will probably find out early that DeMarco will be able to walk through power shots that may have hurt other opponents. DeMarco should also be able to test Broner’s own chin and heart.

I can’t wait to see how Broner responds to all the questions that will be asked of him in this bout.  And when all is said and done, we should know a lot more about Adrien Broner on Saturday night.

Gary Russell Jr.’s Next Move

Gary Russell Jr. scored a spectacular one punch knockout over Roberto Castaneda on Friday night.  The impressive performance once again whetted the appetites of boxing fans who want to see Russell fight more often and against better opposition.

Gary Russell Jr. is an extremely gifted and supremely talented fighter.  He has a great amateur background and in the ring as a pro has shown to be a very skillful fighter.  However, as his career has progressed, his level of competition has not and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be fighting much better opposition.

The Featherweight division is very deep right now and there are certainly more than enough quality contenders available for Russell to face.  By fighting the lower level of the division, he is not learning anything and not developing his skills any further.

If I were a member of Russell’s management team, in his next bout he should fight someone like Rocky Juarez.  At the very least, Russell will be facing a veteran who still has something to offer and someone who will attempt to push him.  Also since Juarez has never been knocked out, the odds are that the bout will go fairly deep and Russell will pick up a lot from Juarez and get some crucial rounds under his belt.

I think Russell is one of the most talented fighters to come into the sport in a long time.  He may currently possess the fastest hands in the sport and has shown devastating knockout power.  I understand in his bout Friday, he did face a last minute sub but the original opponent actually may have been worse.  Hopefully his management team comes to their senses and starts to put Russell in there with more viable contenders soon.  Otherwise they may risk Russell regressing in his career instead of progressing.

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