Abner Mares got back into the sport, pulling on the gloves after a couple years of commentating. It was June 9, 2018, the last time Mares toed the line, for the record. He took on Miguel Flores (25-4 entering), in the second PPV support scrap, and rust didn't seem too much a factor for the ex champ early on. His hand speed looked decent, his legs cooperated as he got his sea legs, and he slipped tosses from Flores well through four. But the fight progressed and a busy second maybe sapped Mares extra. It went to the cards, and Mares popped on sunglasses as he waited for the word: One judge had Mares ahead 96-94, but two others saw it 95-95, so the result of the lightweight tango was majority draw.
The Tex-Mex Flores pressed the 36 year old, and we wondered if his stamina would be there if the fight kept on into the deep water rounds. More so when Mares, now 31-3-2, took a clean groin shot from Flores late in the fourth.
Mares smartly got angles on Flores, kept those feet moving as the underdog looked to walk him down. But Flores kept whacking to the body when he got inside and some time to hurl. Would Mares be able to keep moving as much down the line? Would he be regretting this choice to come back soon, or would Flores burn out some?
The sixth was tight, and in the seventh, Mares swung and missed wildly a couple times, and you had to wonder how the judges were seeing this play out. Mares connected on a counter left which wobbled Flores, maybe giving him the round. Flores looked fresh as he stalked in the eighth, and Mares didn't so much as he moved and chose his spots to engage. Mares made it through the ninth, and the tenth, too–though he got tagged clean a few times in the final round–so we went to the cards.
Jose Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs entering) liked that Dominican Edwin De Los Santos (14-1, 13 KOs) stepped up to step in for Jezreel Corrales on Wednesday so he'd be able to have his bout. “He’ll bring out the best in me and it will be a hell of a show,” said Valenzuela at the Thursday presser to hype the Sunday night show at Crypto.com in LA, topped by a Luis Ortiz v Andy Ruiz heavyweight tango.
Hell of a show, yes, for those rooting on De Los Santos, who took it to Valenzuela and scored a stoppage win to open the PPV portion of the event.
‘El Rayo' will now go back to that drawing board. “I’m ready for anybody,” insisted Valenzuela during fight week. Now, he'll be in rebound mode, after having his O removed in violent fashion.