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Don’t Forget About Perez vs. Mares

The Opening Bout for Vazquez vs. Marquez IV Will be a Show Stopper

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) Bantamweight world title bout between undefeated Yonnhy Perez and Abner Mares provides the perfect complement to what is already a must-see night of boxing Saturday, May 22. The boxing media seems to be in agreement regarding the co-feature of the Vazquez-Marquez IV: “Once and Four All”: Perez-Mares has the potential to be the fight of the night.

“I’m not the only reporter who believes Mares-Perez could steal the show on May 22,” said Robert Morales of the Los Angeles Daily News. “This is one of those fights that can’t help but be filled with excitement. Whatever happens, it’s going to be thrilling.”

Mike Rosenthal of RingTV Online agrees: “This might sound weird but the best fight on the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez IV card might not be Vazquez-Marquez. I love the Yonnhy Perez-Abner Mares matchup, a rugged, bruising warrior in Perez against a more-gifted all-around boxer who also fights aggressively in Mares. That’s a collision I can’t wait to see. It’s a can’t-miss action fight.”

David Avila of the Riverside Press-Enterprise has followed both Perez and Mares since their amateur days. “Yonnhy Perez, the world champion, surprised me with his gradual improvement from an amateur star to a nonstop punching machine. Abner Mares is the best boxer at any weight without a world title. His skills are off the chart. This fight will disappoint me if it’s not one of the top two or three fights of the year. It should be that good.”

The undefeated Perez (20-0, 14 KO’s) of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is originally from Cartagena, Colombia. A top-contender at 118 pounds Mares (19-0, 12 KO’s), of Montebello, Calif. by way of Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, is ranked in the top five by the WBO, WBA and IBF.

Here is what other boxing scribes think:

Steve Kim, MaxBoxing: “This is a highly anticipated match-up because unlike most young contenders who choose a soft spot to win their first major world title, Mares is facing Perez, who is among the very best bantamweights in the world and one of the sport’s toughest men. That’s why on a night when Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez add to their legendary rivalry, Perez-Mares might the best fight of the night.

Doug Fischer, RingTV Online: As much as I respect Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, the reason I’m excited about May 22 is the Yonnhy Perez-Abner Mares co-feature. I believe this bantamweight matchup will be the fight of the night and I would be surprised if it didn’t turn out to be the fight of the year. Perez is under the radar of casual fans, but he’s one of the most dedicated active fighters in the sport. He’s a strong-willed, warrior-technician who is very much at home when he’s battling in close quarters and throwing over a 100 punches per round. Mares is one of the most talented boxer-punchers without a world title. At times I see flashes of Julio Cesar Chavez and Marco Antonio Barrera in his fights. He has the potential to be a star if he can beat Perez, but that’s a big “if.”

Kevin Iole, Yahoo!: Yonnhy Perez’ victory over Joseph Agbeko was one of the most exciting fights of 2009 and was an outstanding performance that surprised many. Mares is a hard-nosed fighter who rarely takes a backward step, which should make this bout one of the year’s more exciting in what is a very stacked division.

Francisco Salazar, Fight News: “This is an even fight between two solid boxer/punchers that could steal the show prior to the Marquez-Vazquez fight. On paper, Mares has faced the stronger opposition and has the advantage of having speed between the two fighters. Mares breaks fighters down with an accumulation of punches, attacking the body. He does tend to stand in front of fighters while banging, which could play into the hands of the Colombian champion. Perez can turn a fight around with one punch (his bout against Mabuza) and defeated Joseph Agbeko in his last bout. Perez has solid ring generalship and is crafty with his punches. Mares should box, going in and out of Perez’ reach, while Perez should do his best to cut the ring off. Expect to see a knockdown or two in an action fight. I see Mares winning a very close 12-round majority decision.

Morales: “Both fighters are talented, but the difference could be Perez’s experience in big bouts. His come-from-behind, 12th-round TKO of Silence Mabuza in a title elimination fight in Mabuza’s native South Africa was very noteworthy. Then in his first Las Vegas fight, he takes the title from Joseph Agbeko, who was coming off a win over Vic Darchinyan. Two huge wins. Perez’s mettle is undeniable. As for Mares, this young man is vastly talented and he has the physical goods to beat Perez. But again, the X factor could be inner strength, and Perez has shown he can come through under difficult circumstances. Mares has never really had to do that, if for no other reason he hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of Mabuza and Agbeko.”

Jake Emen, ProBoxing-Fans.com: “Mares was once one of the hottest prospects in the sport, before injuries and inactivity took him out of the spotlight, and he has all of the technical skills he needs to become a world champion. But in facing Yonnhy Perez he’s meeting a tough veteran who will battle him for every inch of the canvas. This is more than a just step-up fight, and we’ll very quickly find out what Mares is made out of. The winner of this bout will be a force to be reckoned with atop the bantamweight division, and will be looking forward to some very intriguing showdowns with the other top warriors at 118 lbs. Particularly intriguing would be an eventual showdown for Mares against fellow Mexican Fernando Montiel, fresh off his brutal KO of Hozumi Hasegawa.”