(Las Vegas; Abner Mares celebrates his victory over Jonathan Oquendo during a featherweight fight at MGM Grand. Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
Abner Mares was recovering Saturday night from his first loss, a long layoff and adjusting to new trainer Virgil Hunter, and he got a clear decision win over Jonathan Oquendo in a style that was far less enthusiastic than we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
It was the final bout before the main event on Showtime pay-per-view, Saul Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara, and it was not much of a warm-up. Maybe Mares was skittish after suffering a shocking 1st round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez; maybe Hunter, who emphasizes defense, made him more conscientious of avoiding punishment; maybe it was ring rust; maybe it was all of the above. But there were some odd elements to the performance, with Mares far less accurate than usual. Not used to backing up? Who knows. But it wasn’t stellar stuff.
Oquendo did some good work early, putting pressure on Mares under the assumption, probably, that he was mentally fragile. He split the first four rounds (he cut Mares’ left eye in the 4th, ruled from a punch but looked more from a head butt), and needed a knockout to win in the 10th and so he turned it up then, too. But he got dissuaded in the middle rounds by Mares’ superior ability, and perhaps by flashes of vintage Mares’ hard body shots. Mostly, Mares threw punches with little conviction and won with volume as Oquendo slowed.
Mares gave lip service afterward to the notion of being interested in a rematch with Gonzalez, but his actions have suggested he thought better of it after exercising the rematch clause immediately. Based on this showing, he might last longer. Whether he would win doesn’t seem any more likely.