Mares vs. Moreno, a pivotal match up (Part II)

By Nick Bellafatto

What’s instructive to note in discussing the upcoming bantamweight championship taking place this Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles between WBC titlist Abner Mares (24-0-1, 13 KO’s) and pound-for-pound prizefighter Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KO’s), is not necessarily Abner’s two most recent victories per se, but rather the way they came about and how that might translate into action once the first bell sounds.

Mares in facing both Joseph Agbeko and then Eric Morel, two solid professionals, would throw punches in bunches, something he’s prone to do and rather proficiently, attacking the head and body in unrelenting fashion with plenty of speed and controlled aggression. This not only bodes well for Abner this weekend, but will be key in defeating Moreno, who although a stellar tactician, is by no stretch a knockout puncher so that the Mexican fighter has an opportunity to outwork his counterpart in a bout likely to go the distance.

Mares after warming a bit should be able to get in range of the cagey southpaw behind his jab, with a little side to side head movement being ideal so as to prevent Moreno from getting a beat on him with his straight left hand. And as is usual Abner must simply throw in combination, specifically beginning or ending at the body irregardless of whether he lands to the head or not of the slick, elusive Panamanian.

This will prove especially valuable considering that “Chemito” has a tendency to consistently duck head shots or go into a crouch when advanced upon. Stated Mares, “with Moreno’s style, if you miss, you cannot become frustrated. You have to keep working and that is one of the biggest keys for me.”

Of course another obvious reason for Mares to go to the body is to slow down the challenger  who makes extensive use of his legs, constantly employing lateral movement as well as turning preferably to his right. This will necessitate that Abner use a long left hook as he did somewhat successfully against southpaw Vic Darchinyan, so as to keep Anselmo in front of him, as well as negate Moreno’s steering right hook.

Abner getting off first both up and down would be essential, as this is sure to upset the visiting fighter’s rhythm, timing, and perhaps mobility, as well as serve to thwart Moreno’s own body attack which can’t be dismissed as a fight changer. By pressing the attack the defending champion may also in the latter stages wear down his opponent, as “Chemito” had previously wilted to an extent under constant pressure as evidenced in his fight with Volodymyr Sydorenko.

Another tidbit is that Anselmo’s most recent adversary, although thoroughly dominated, gave “Chemito” a taste of his own medicine in that David De La Mora would momentarily and successfully box a bit, moving in, out, and laterally with scoring blows which seemed to frustrate the Panamanian who in reaching with his punches found it difficult to counter.

To further that point, Nehomar Cermeno on two separate occasions would nearly upset Moreno doing the identical, twice resulting in close split decision verdicts. Not sure if sticking and moving is up for consideration on the part of Mares but perhaps it should be.

There’s no question that Abner has to cut off the ring, that’s a given. The question then becomes what happens when he does? Will Moreno box his way out of traps to successfully maneuver away? Will Anselmo be drawn into more of a fire fight which may tend to favor the slightly shorter and reach disadvantaged Mares?

Nothing is set in stone, but opposed to what Abner Mares should do, Anselmo must do the counter. “Chemito” in appearing to be the slower and at times wider puncher needs to be accurate with a well timed jab, not only a punch that will help keep his opponent at bay, but a blow that would serve to negate Mares’s combinations. This along with a right hook will allow the lengthier challenger to punch his way out of Abner’s path and use the ring to his advantage.

Moreno simply doesn’t want to get into a constant fire fight with the quicker fisted Mares, while simultaneously the challenger needs to give the impression he’s outscoring his opponent. A difficult task for the typically economical Moreno who will in pockets no doubt have to pick up the pace or face the possibility of becoming outworked, inevitably falling behind on the scorecards which would be a concern considering the Panamanian’s no kayo artist.

However, what is sure to pay dividends for Anselmo besides a mixed attack and consistent jab, is a straight left if not double straight left hand, as Mares, who uses head movement to avoid blows, rarely uses head movement on the way in which will leave him vulnerable to that punch, especially in the absence of Abner’s own jab.

This is the very blow from which the Mexican pugilist would suffer a flash knockdown at the hands of Vic Darchinyan. Other than that Moreno as the boxer must avoid the ropes where Abner does his best work, as well as be in top condition so as not fade late or he will become victimized by an opponent who can bring it all night long.

Lastly, Moreno when not getting the better of it must tie up, something that if he ends up doing repeatedly to thwart what looks to be the inevitable, could call into question who the referee is or how he handles matters. Hopefully that will not be the case but Anselmo’s tendency to push off or skillfully but questionably steer his opponents around the ring may be at issue. We shall see.

In the end, with a future potential match up on the line with WBO champion and pound-for-pound prizefighter Nonito Donaire, or even with WBA titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux, I believe Moreno’s body punching, straight left hand, and most everything else will for the most part be cancelled out by the work rate of Mares who’s best defense in this and other fights has been and will perhaps continue to be his offense.

And even though I expect it to be a competitive scrap with “Chemito” stating “I will come in hungry” and “do what I have to do and be ready to win on fight night,” I’m willing to bet that Mares will solve the puzzle that is Anselmo Moreno. Abner by way of setting a torrent pace should over time be able to outwork, out-point, and in finality inflict upon the challenger his first defeat in slightly over ten years.

Concluded Mares, “I’ve got to be up close and I’ve just got to make it my fight. If I have to make it an ugly fight, so be it, but as long as it’s my fight and he gets uncomfortable in it. You can expect a more mature, focused, and ready Abner than you ever have seen before. I can’t wait to get in the ring.”

Mares vs. Moreno, a 12-round battle for Mares’s WBC junior featherweight world title, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and sponsored by Corona and AT&T. The Showtime Championship Boxing telecast begins live at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

In co-featured attractions, Los Angeles’s own Leo “Terremoto” Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 12 KO’s) puts his IBF bantamweight world title up for grabs against Victor “Nene” Zaleta (20-2-1, 10 KO’s), while hard-hitting junior middleweight Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (20-2, 17 KO’s) of Los Angeles by way of Mexicali, Mexico makes his highly anticipated return after a lengthy eleven month detention at the hands of Immigration Services, to square off with Raul Casarez (19-2, 9 KO’s) in a 12-round contest.

In preliminary bouts to air live on Showtime Extreme (8 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast), Nathan Cleverly (24-0, 11 KO’s) of Cefn Fforest, Wales, United Kingdom will be putting his unblemished record as well as WBO light heavyweight title on the line against Shawn Hawk (22-2-1, 16 KO’s) of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, while in a junior welterweight scrap, promising unbeaten Antonio Orozco (15-0, 11 KO’s) of San Diego, California will take on Danny Escobar (8-1, 5 KO’s) of nearby Riverside.

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