Somewhere along the way, Abner Mares has become the Mike Tyson of the lower weight divisions.
Even by his own admission, the comparison has nothing to do with their respective career arcs but more so they have become the two most mentioned names as opponents of choice in recent weeks.
All it took for Tyson was a five-second workout clip of the Hall of Fame former heavyweight champion, now 53 years old yet still energizing an endless list of opportunistic heavyweights.
For Mares, it didn’t even require shaking the bushes but rather a mere mention of his preparing to resume his already stellar career. From there, every major player in the 130-pound division—and quite a few at lightweight as well—has called for a fight with the former three-division titlist.
“I’m flattered, I’m happy, I’m excited,” Mares (31-3-1, 15KOs) insisted to BoxingScene.com of the current generation of lower weight talent asking for him by name. “I’m sure these guys see me as a name they want to put on their record, I’m a big name, obviously because of the accomplishments I’ve had in boxing. It’s a joy. It’s a good feeling knowing these fighters still consider me a top opponent despite my absence in boxing.”
Mares long ago established that reputation, facing a virtual who’s who of top talent during his heyday. The 2004 Mexican Olympian has won major titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight during an incredible run at the start of the past decade before suffering a shocking 1st round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013 for his first career defeat.
A second featherweight title reign came about in 2016 following a 12-round win over Jesus Cuellar, a run bookended by losses to Leo Santa Cruz. Mares’ last fight came in a repeat loss to Santa Cruz two years ago at this very time. Plans for a move up in weight to challenge then-unbeaten 130-pound titlist Gervonta Davis were squashed when Mares was forced to withdraw due to a detached retina which has since been surgically repaired and fully healed.
Mares announced last November his intentions to return, with this past May as the targeted period. The timeline is now pushed back to this summer due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, but the goal remains the same—win a title in a fourth weight division before heading off into the sunset.
Based on the reaction from his divisional peers, there won’t be any shortage of opponent selection to help get him to that point.
“It’s unreal, you mention Tyson, these guys still mention his name,” notes Mares. “I’m not trying to put my name alongside Tyson—he’s a different league and from a different time. It’s a good example, though, because it’s exactly what’s happening with me.
“I’ve been out for two years and now have basically every 130- to 135-pounder wanting to face me. It’s great. I love that everyone wants to face me, because I’m more than willing to fight anyone.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox