Abner Mares was taken aback by what he called “a crazy question” during a recent virtual press conference.
A reporter wanted to know, though, if Miguel Flores would target Mares’ surgically repaired right eye when they fight September 4 in Los Angeles. Mares hasn’t fought in more than four years, in large part due to a detached right retina he suffered during a sparring session in January 2019 while preparing to fight Gervonta Davis.
If Flores intends to test Mares’ right eye, he wasn’t about to admit it publicly. The Mexican veteran instead acknowledged that he is more interested in going to Mares’ body, to see what the former three-division champion can take after such a lengthy layoff.
“I think people have mentioned [targeting his eye] to me, but to me, Abner is a target,” Flores said. “You know, I don’t just wanna, you know, focus on that. What if that doesn’t work? What if he’s good on his eye? Well, he should be good on his eye. No, like I wanna target his body. He’s been out. I wanna see how his body’s doing. You know, he is a target, so I’m not even worried about that. Like I said, people don’t realize, man, having a couple of [years] off, it does your body good. So, I’m sure Abner knows.”
Mares admitted during the virtual press conference that there was a point during his hiatus that he felt he would never fight again. His wife, two daughters and others discouraged him from returning to the ring, but the 36-year-old Mares, who underwent extensive eye tests before the California State Athletic Commission agreed to license him, was determined to fight at least once more before deciding whether he’ll continue his comeback.
Flores downplayed the seriousness of Mares’ comeback, but this will mark the second time that the 2004 Olympian will return from a detached retina. He won world titles in the bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight divisions after he suffered the same injury to his left eye in 2008.
The Showtime analyst is 14 years older this time, though, and hasn’t boxed since rival Leo Santa Cruz defeated him by unanimous decision in their 12-round rematch in June 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“Man, like, to be honest, Abner’s a grown-ass man,” Flores said. “He knows what he’s doing. Like, he’s not gonna put himself, his life in jeopardy. So no, his eye is not a target. I mean, I’m targeting him. He is a target. I’m targeting his body and I’m not even worried about that. That’s not even, you know, something we’re worried about right now.”
Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), of Montebello, California, and Flores (25-4, 12 KOs), of Spring, Texas, will meet in a 10-round junior lightweight fight as part of a FOX Sports Pay-Per-View show from Crypto.com Arena, the venue formerly known as Staples Center. Former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (34-2, 22 KOs), of Imperial, California, will face Cuban veteran Luis Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs, 2 NC) in the 12-round main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.