Fight Preview: Mares vs. Moreno
On November 10, Abner Mares defends his 122-pound strap against longtime WBA Bantamweight Champion Anselmo Moreno in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. For enthusiasts of the lower-weight classes, this is a treat. Mares is well known to U.S. fans, following a successful winning run in the Showtime bantamweight tournament and two more subsequent high-profile wins. Moreno, meanwhile, has been tucked away mostly in Central and South America.
Make no mistake, however, because Moreno is a top-notch campaigner. He won 11 WBA title fights in a productive 4-year reign. With a pair of impressive wins on U.S. soil on Mares undercards, Moreno increased his visibility and now he gets his shot to register his first really big win. Give Mares credit. While fans and media certainly wanted for him to fight someone good, he could have gone many easier routes than taking on Moreno. It’s a high-risk/low-reward fight for him. Moreno’s merit as a fighter severely outweighs his minimal star-power.
- Date: November 10, 2012
- Site: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
- Titles: WBC Super Bantamweight Title
In Mares’ favor is that this fight is in his stomping grounds, with Mares living close to the venue. A popular figure in the Southland, Mares will have robust fan support. In addition, this is Moreno’s first fight at 122. Then again, Mares just recently moved up also, despite having fought at that poundage early in his career. Moreno is taller than Mares, but has been as low as 108 in his career, albeit when he was just a teenager. Size shouldn’t be an issue, but Mares is the most robust fighter Moreno has ever faced.
The junior featherweight division is heating up. In addition to Mares and Moreno, there is Nonito Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Toshiaki Nishioka, Jorge Arce, and northbound bantamweight titlist–the exciting Leo Santa Cruz. The winner of this fight faces some exciting opportunities in a suddenly-resurgent 122-pound class.
Mares: The 26-year old is 24-0-1 (13 KOs) in a career that dates back to 2005. He represented Mexico in the 2004 games. Stands a tick under 5’5” with a 66-inch reach.
Moreno: The Panamanian stands almost 5’7” with a 70-inch reach, but seems wirier than that. Moreno turned pro at 16 in 2002 and is now a steely 27-year old veteran. Holds a record of 33-1-1, with his only loss coming in a split 4-round decision at age 17 that he later avenged by knockout. Made 10 defenses of his WBA Bantamweight Title.
Mares: Mares came up the normal way for most prospects, but when he finally hit the world-class scene–he was thrown to the lions. Mares managed to get through it undefeated, attesting to his growth as a fighter. Beat a few tough guys on the way up, then faced a stellar roster of 118-pounders in Showtime’s bantamweight tourney. Mares seemed unlucky to only get a draw against Yonnhy Perez, before narrowly beating Vic Darchinyan in a high-pitched battle.
Next came two fights with tough Joseph Agbeko. The first one was very controversial, with the lack of enforcement of Mares’ low blows reaching comical levels. Abner was more dominant in the rematch, winning a wide decision. In his first fight at 122, won a wipeout unanimous decision over veteran Eric Morel.
Moreno: Came up tough, facing rugged journeymen and fringe contenders before getting a high ranking with the WBA. Moreno beat undefeated champ Wladimir Sidorenko by unanimous decision for the WBA title in 2008 and repeated the win by split decision a year later. Scored two split decisions over Nehomar Cermeno in 2010. In his biggest win, dominated Vic Darchinyan at the Honda Center in Anaheim, a short drive from where he fights Mares on November 11.
Mares: Although Mares has been facing excellent opposition, he has failed to register a knockout against a top foe. In 5 fights against world-class fighters, he is 4-0-1 (0) with two of those decisions not being unanimous. In all fairness, though, 4 of Moreno’s last 9 wins were by split decision. Watching Leo Santa Cruz blow out Eric Morel, who lasted the distance with Mares, understated Mares’ possible lack of pop at this level. That might not bode well in this fight with Mares likely needing to take the role of aggressor. It will be important for him to earn Moreno’s respect.
He is unquestionably a top fighter. Against Moreno, he just might need to show a more cerebral side. He showed glimpses of his mental potential with his approach and execution in the Agbeko fight. He might have to show some high-level boxing smarts to beat Moreno, a cerebral fighter and a really cool customer.
Moreno: With Moreno, it’s hard to really judge. We see a guy with a long reign as WBA 118-pound champion who was largely invisible to fans in the U.S. Then all of a sudden he appears on a couple Mares undercards and looks really good. So the urge, especially for the hardcore fan looking to find a hidden gem, is to project qualities on that fighter, which may or may not exist. Boxing fans can be like music snobs. A music snob loves to find some bootleg album no one knows about and there might be a reason no one knows about it–because it isn’t that awesome. Moreno looks great, but he still has to prove himself at this level.
In addition, he is being asked to go into his opponent’s backyard. How much this will affect him personally and form-wise remains to be seen. He’s a proven winner on the road, though, having won world title bouts in Texas, California, Germany, France, and Venezuela. In a close fight, you just have to wonder if Mares will get the benefit of the doubt.
Mares: While an exciting fighter, is he a guy who is truly a top fighter? Or is he a fighter who will win a few belts and just fall short of the very top? Is he pushing his luck taking on a diamond-in-the-rough like Moreno? While less-known, does Moreno represent a step up in class from the Perez-Darchinyan-Agbeko trio? While capturing the boxing world’s attention winning the Showtime tournament, he has remained a mid-pack champion. Can he do something big here to take his career to the next level? Or has he reached his next level already, illustrated by how he just seemed to do enough to win some of those fights?
Moreno: Is he getting too much credit for his two recent stateside appearances where he decisioned a fading Vic Darchinyan and the unknown David De La Mora? Sure he looked good, but can he work that same magic against a more prime and capable Mares? Does he have the power to earn the respect of Mares or will he have trouble keeping him off? Is it alarming that he has so many split decisions in his title reign or has he turned the corner as a fighter?
Mares vs. Moreno Prediction
Moreno is a tough out. He has a lot of subtle skills. The whippet-like Panamanian is springy, crisp, and cunning in the ring. He can see the vulnerabilities of his opponents and has the talent to deliver the right shot. I’m not selling Mares short. It’s not inconceivable that he can outwork Moreno and catch a few breaks with the judges to win a decision.
I just think Mares’ hopes are less realistic than Moreno’s, that he has less ways he can win. Mares will be forced to trudge forward, vaguely trying to get some positive inertia mounted. It’s just that he might be be made to look sluggish and imprecise in relation to the sharp southpaw Moreno.
Mares could match up better with Moreno than I’m suspecting, but Moreno is a heck of a fighter who just never got a chance to shine until now. And I think he will. The whole boxing world is sleeping on Moreno and Mares better get his head wrapped around what he’s going to face on November 11 or it might get ugly in there. I see Moreno busting Mares’ face up a bit, which will inevitably get him the hook. This might be a reach, but I like Moreno inside the distance.
Prediction: Anselmo Moreno wins by 11th-round TKO.