When fight fans hear the name Abner Mares, they probably (and understandably) think fearless brawler. But you don’t win three world titles—and put yourself in position to win a fourth—without knowing a thing or two about the finer points of boxing.
Sure, Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) enjoys toe-to-toe exchanges as much as any warrior in the sport—for proof, just check out at a replay of last year’s 2,000-punch slugfest with Southern California rival Leo Santa Cruz.
And, yes, the 29-year-old Mexican-American will almost certainly throw caution to the wind at some point December 10 when he challenges 126-pound champion Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) at the Galen Center in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
Just don’t mistake Mares’ penchant for brawling for an inability to box. The man has the skills to stick and move, as we discovered during a recent training camp visit in which Mares also revealed the punch he considers to be his “moneymaker,” the cuisine he hates to give up during training (not a surprise) and the Rocky movie he most appreciates (big surprise).
Do you have a boxing hero?
Maybe not hero. But someone I obviously looked up to growing up—like every Mexican fighter did—was Julio Cesar Chavez. He was the prime fighter and the idol for everyone growing up at that time.
Who is the one fighter in history you would’ve liked to have fought, and how would that fight have played out?
I’d say Manny Pacquiao, who’s obviously still active. It’s just the simple fact that he’s Manny Pacquiao. It would be nice to have a fight with him under my belt.
It would have been an interesting fight because of the matchup of styles. Obviously, the difference in weight classes would give him an advantage, but it still would have been a good fight.
“ I remember a clean uppercut Vic Darchinyan landed when we fought, and I felt it all the way down to my soul. Obviously, I took it like a champ. ”
What’s the biggest misconception made about boxers?
People think that we’re uneducated and also that we’re not respectful people. … We’re likeable people.
Who has hit you the hardest hit in your career?
Vic Darchinyan. I remember a clean uppercut he landed when we fought, and I felt it all the way down to my soul. Obviously, I took it like a champ.
Who’s the best fighter you ever sparred with but never got to fight?
I think one of the toughest sparring sessions I had growing up was with Israel Vasquez. He was such a great volume puncher.
Excluding yourself, who do you consider the best pound-for-pound fighter today?
I’m not a big boxing fan in that I don’t follow it closely and watch [fights] every weekend. It has to be a big fight. But I’ll say one of my favorite fighters right now is Terence Crawford. I’d say he’s my No. 1 guy.
When you’re in training, what’s the toughest meal for you to give up?
Mexican food. All Mexican food. In particular, enchiladas. That’s easily my favorite.
What’s your favorite punch to throw?
Left hook, definitely. That’s my moneymaker.
Do you have a favorite boxing film?
I’ve liked all of the Rocky movies. I [even] liked Rocky V, which is a good look at how people see retired fighters. They don’t give them the same respect as they did when they were champions.
Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to learn that I …
… can actually box. I know I’m known for being a high-volume action fighter, and some of [that reputation] is my own doing, because I like to give the fans excitement and happen to sometimes make fights into brawls. But I’m also a good boxer.
What’s one item on your bucket list you really want to knock out?
I want to do it, my wife wants to do it, [but] I might not do it because I’m kind of scared—and that’s skydiving. It’s tough, but I want to try it.
"12 Rounds With ..." is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com.