Abner Mares, Eric Morel and Anselmo Moreno participated in a media conference call on Friday to discuss their fights on the upcoming Showtime Boxing telecast on Saturday, April 21, which will be broadcast live from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
Unbeaten former Bantamweight World Champion Abner Mares (23-0-1, 13 KO’s), of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, will return to the 122-pound division for the first time since 2006 to face former Two-Time World Champion Eric “Little Hands of Steel” Morel (46-2, 23 KO’s), of Madison, Wis. by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Bantamweight World Championship in the 12-round main event.
Here’s what the fighters had to say on Friday:
Do you consider yourself the best bantamweight in the world?
MORENO: “I wouldn’t consider myself the best, but I am considered one of the best and I’m training and working hard to become the best. Right now I want work hard and have fans be the judge.”
Is there anyone you want to fight after this and are you going to stay at 118 or are you going to be moving up to 122 pounds?
MORENO: “I think right now my biggest opponent would be the daily workouts in the gym – the heavy bag, the speed bag, working the mitts with my trainer. That would be the toughest because we work very, very hard. As far as opponents, I’m ready to fight the best and I’ve shown that in the past. I’m staying at 118 maybe for one more fight and them I’m ready to jump to 122 to fight the biggest names out there.”
Did you expect a more competitive fight from Vic Darchinyan?
MORENO: “There was a lot of talk from people that it was a dangerous fight, that I was in over my head and that he was going to run me over, but I was never worried about that. I was always very confident about my skills. Once I stepped in the ring, I was very comfortable and I was very confident that I could outbox him and beat him clearly.”
People have compared you to Pernell Whitaker. What do you think of that comparison?
MORENO: “I’ve been told that, not only Whitaker, but also many past fighters from Panama. I’m proud and honored, but this is a style that I was born with. I was born in the streets and fought in the streets and I learned there.”
Is your style appreciated?
MORENO: “Definitely. You have to remember that the fight against Darchinyan was my first fight in the United States, so I was a little more reserved. Now I’m very excited to be fighting in the United States again and you’ll see a little bit of difference. I’m going to be the same boxer style-wise, but you’ll see a little bit more. I’m very anxious to get in the ring, please the crowd and defend my title again.”
Would you like to fight Nonito Donaire?
MORENO: “That is a dream of mine. I’ve been dreaming about it, thinking about it and that is something I look forward to. Work my way up to 122 pounds and fighting Nonito Donaire is definitely something that I have on my mind.”
Do you see yourself moving up to 122 and fighting the winner of Mares-Morel?
MORENO: “I don’t pick opponents. Everybody that knows me knows I don’t pick opponents. I let my promoter, my management and my team pick the opponents and I just fight. To go up to 122 to fight Morel, to fight Mares and fight the best out there, that’s my goal and that’s what I’ll do.”
MARES: “I’m happy to be on SHOWTIME again and to give another great fight. I can’t wait to be a world champion in a different weight class.”
You’re 37 years old now. What can you show Mares that he hasn’t already seen?
MOREL: “Mares is a great fighter, but my age is nothing but a number. I’m in great shape, my speed is there and I have more power. I feel like nothing is going to stop me. I can guarantee you that age isn’t catching up to me.”
Abner, you’ve been through the gauntlet in your last few fights. What have those fights given you in terms of facing a guy like Morel?
MARES: “I’m not worried and I’m not training any different because he’s 37 years old. I’m not training less because he has more fights. I’m just training like I always train for any opponent. I just look at this fight like another fight. Another opponent, another fight. I’ve fought top opposition and I’ve been able to adjust to every fighter. That’s just because of the way I train and the way I set myself mentally. I’m not concerned with my age, younger, older. I know he trains hard and I do expect a tough fight. None of that crosses my mind.”
Do you know what you’re getting yourself into with Eric and can you access his abilities?
MARES: “I do know what I’m getting myself into because I’ve been in the same position he has. I’ve been there where nobody knew about me. It’s a big step-up fight for him and he’s trying to get his name out there again. He’s basically trying to make a comeback and I get that. I’ve been there. When I first fought Yohnny Perez nobody knew about me. I definitely know what he’s thinking, I definitely know what I’m getting myself into. I know it’s going to be a tough fight. I know he’s going to train hard. I know he’s trying to prove to everybody that he’s ready, but, again, I train hard too. I’m ready for him and I hope that it turns out to be a great fight for the fans.”
Do you think it helped you that you had to go the full 12-round distance for all four of your last fights?
MARES: “Yes, we all know that at times it’s better going the full 12 rounds. It’s better to have way more experience than to be knocking guys out in the first or second round and then you get this fight that goes the full 12 rounds and you don’t know what to do. I’ve seen it all already and I’m blessed that I went 12 rounds in my last four fights.”
MOREL: “It’s going to be a great fight like I said before. Mares is not going to bring anything to the table that I haven’t seen before. I’m a veteran, I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve got to prove myself. Therefore, I’ve been training extremely hard and I’m not looking past this fight. It’s going to be a great fight. It’s do or die for me.”
How are you feeling at 122 pounds?
MOREL: “The fight is going to be a catch weight at 120 pounds. I’ve been fighting at 120 for the past three or four fights. It’s going to be an advantage, I think, because I won’t have to make 118. I’m not saying I have problems making 118 but I can come into the ring a little stronger.”
What do you think about the rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico?
MARES: “I really don’t focus on that. When I go inside the ring it’s just Abner vs. whoever. I don’t look to see if he’s from Puerto Rico, Canada or Europe. At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. It’s fun and it’s great that people like the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry because they know that Mexico and Puerto Rico always brings great fighters and I’m thrilled this is another Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry. It’s going to be a great fight.”
MOREL: “Puerto Rico and Mexico have been going at it for a very long time and lately we’ve been doing bad, but on April 21 I’m going to change that.”
Why did you make the move up to 122?
MARES: “It was obviously a team decision. Why not? I think 122 is really interesting right now. Big names are there. I’ve fought everybody at 118 and 122 has great names and I can face all these guys back-to-back and I’d love to. I’m blessed and thrilled that this next fight is for a 122-pound title.”
Who would you like to fight at 122 pounds?
MARES: “I’m going to name like five and all of them would be great fights from bottom to top: Victor Terrazas, Fernando Montiel, Rafael Marquez, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., Jorge Arce and the big name that is up there is, no doubt, Nonito Donaire. If all those fights can be made I’m more than willing to take those fights.”
Can you guys talk about your Olympic experience and how much it meant to you?
MARES: “It was great. It was short, but it was great. I lost in my first fight but it was something that no one can take away from me. It was great to go in 2004 and represent my country [Mexico]. It was, without a doubt, my best accomplishment. The whole journey – going to different parts of the world, meeting different people – to this day I still have contact with those people that I met on that journey. It was just a great experience and something that has helped me now as a professional fighter.”
MARES: “Mine was short as well because I lost to the Gold Medalist in my first round, but it was a great experience. I got to meet all kinds of athletes from all over the world. It was one of the goals that I had when I was growing up and I achieved that. To represent the U.S. in the biggest game was great and something that I will never forget.”
This is a compelling fight because of the contrast of styles with one guy being a boxer-puncher and one guy being a counter-puncher. Can you guys talk about that?
MOREL: “This is a great matchup and the best man’s going to win. The hungrier man is going to win, the one that comes in more prepared. Mares is a very complete fighter and I know what I’m getting into. It’s going to be great.”
MARES: “I agree that it’s going to be a great fight. Eric brings to the ring experience and a great style. He’s a good boxer and I’m going to adjust to his style. It’s going to be fun and interesting to go into the ring and try to figure out the style. I do go in there with a plan, but it always turns out that I figure out the opponent in the ring and I make a plan there. It’s going to be interesting figuring out his style. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
Are you excited for this opportunity?
MOREL: “I’m extremely thankful to SHOWTIME. Without them, none of this would be possible. It’s a great opportunity that SHOWTIME, Golden Boy and Team Mares has given me. I want to make sure the fans leave the place happy.”
MARES: “No doubt my life has changed tremendously after my first four fights on SHOWTIME. I’ll never forget the opportunity they’ve given me to showcase my style and showcase Abner Mares, not only inside the ring but outside the ring. It’s been great. It’s changed to the point where now I’m on TV and people recognize me, but I’m still going to stay the same. Going back to Hawaiian Gardens where I grew up, I’m the same guy, but it’s just great that people know me now.”
“Mares vs. Morel: Battle on the Border” is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. Just prior to the SHOWTIME Championship Boxing doubleheader, preliminary bouts will air live on SHOWTIME EXTREME® beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Tickets, priced at $25, $50, $75 and $150, are available for purchase at the UTEP Ticket Office, all Ticketmaster locations or by phone at (800) 745-3000. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, please call: (915) 747-5234.