Abner Mares vs. Eric Morel fight preview & prediction

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Abner Mares moves up to 122 on April 21 to face Eric Morel for the WBC Super Bantamweight Title. First of all, why is Toshiaki Nishioka all of a sudden no longer WBC champ at this weight? Details are sketchy, but here we have Mares-Morel for that belt. Whatever. Mares is the unbeaten winner of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament and one of the hotter fighters at 118-122. Morel has managed to land this spot through attrition, as he is riding an 11-fight unbeaten streak since his release from prison.

It is worth noting that this fight is in Texas, where they haven’t managed to get anything right lately. So we can break down this fight, but if the carnival atmosphere of boxing continues in the Longhorn State, it could all be for naught. Let’s hope we get a decisive result and not another Texas Special along the lines of what we’ve recently seen.

  • Date: April 21, 2012
  • Site: Don Haskins Convention Center in El Paso, Texas
  • Title: Vacant WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Record and Vital Stats

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

Mares: The former IBF Bantamweight Champion stands a tad over 5’4” with a 66-inch reach. At 26, he is a decade younger than his opponent. The 23-0-1 (13 KOs) Mares turned pro in 2005 after a nice amateur career that saw him represent Mexico in the 2004 Olympics.

Morel: Having fallen off most people’s radar, Morel is now 36 years old, with a career that dates back all the way to 1996. The 1996 U.S. Olympian has a two-inch height and 4-inch reach advantage over Mares. The Puerto Rican-born Morel’s record stands at an impressive 46-2 (23 KOs) and includes a nice run as WBA Flyweight Champion from 2000-2003.

Recent Form and Body of Work

Mares: He is coming off one of the more demanding schedules of the past two years. Mares went 3-0-1 in fights against Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, and two bouts with Joseph Agbeko and the Perez draw could have easily gone his way. He struggled through this stretch, but that is to be expected when facing top opposition. At the end of day, he came out on top of the pile, culminating the whole ordeal with his best showing–a clear rematch decision over Agbeko.

Morel: After a conviction for sexual assault, Morel was out of action from March 2005 to February 2008. His last bout before the layoff was a decision loss to 115-pound titlist Martin Castillo, but he has scored 11 straight wins since returning. While not setting the world on fire, Morel has beaten some solid gatekeeper-types. His best win during this period was a 2010 split decision over Gerry Penalosa. By the time he meets Mares, he will have had 4 fights in the past 26 months–all coming against relatively weak competition.

Questions

Mares: How fresh is he after that grueling 4-fight stretch? He did seem to get better as the tournament wore on, but is there a chance that those taxing fights took a little zip out of Mares? While it is only 4 pounds and Morel isn’t considered a top guy at that weight, is Mares pushing it with his small frame by moving up a division? Or will he be refreshed facing less of a weight-making struggle?

Morel: While he deserves credit for a nice winning streak, is there anything on his recent record to suggest he can beat the likes of Mares? Even when he was in his prime, he usually came up short at this level. He could beat good fighters, but when facing those who were very good–it didn’t quite work out. Now at 36, what could really change? Or is there a chance that people are sleeping on Morel? After an ugly criminal conviction, it’s understandable that people would want to sweep him under the rug. Has that served to blind some from his actual abilities? Can he use his height and reach to good affect against Mares? Will the fact that he’s off everybody’s radar lead to Mares overlooking him?

Mares vs. Morel Prediction

Again, it’s in Texas, so here goes nothing. I think, on a very basic level, it comes down to Mares being today’s news, while Morel is yesterday’s news. The former U.S. Olympian has done well to get to this spot, but while a series of wins have earned him a high ranking, Mares is already there. And if Morel were up to par, he would be there too, but he’s not. After a good run at 112 over a decade ago, he flattened out at 115, went to prison, and now here is–three divisions above his best form and facing a battle-tempered unbeaten fighter.

That’s a tough spot for Morel. And while he is a talented boxer with a great pedigree, I find it hard to believe that he still has the legs, pep, and powers of resistance to give Mares a truly difficult evening. His skills will allow him to hang in there, but by the middle-rounds–Mares will begin to put some serious distance between him and Morel. Ever since Mares crashed onto the scene, he has been in very competitive fights. I think this is where we see him score a truly dominant win.

Prediction: Abner Mares wins by unanimous decision.

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