Abner Mares prepares for title defense, talks of future challenges

Abner Mares, who won world titles in three divisions in the last two years, is taking on another tough test Aug. 24, and is talking of moving up in weight again.

All that’s missing for the Hawaiian Gardens fighter is the surge of fan interest that he’s due.

A gauge of that will come next month when Mares (26-0-1, 14 knockouts) makes the first defense of his World Boxing Council featherweight belt against big-hitting former champ Jhonny Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) of Mexico at StubHub Center in Carson.

The Showtime-televised card will also include another young Los Angeles fighter with a bright future, Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs) fighting for the WBC super-bantamweight belt against champion Victor Terrazas (37-2-1, 21 KOs).

Tickets, priced $25 to $150, go on sale Saturday.

“Abner just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, fighting the top guys and winning,” Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez said at a Thursday news conference for the bout at Olvera Street. “The last seven guys he’s fought have given him a very impressive resume, and I believe you guys [reporters] and the fans have noticed.”

Mares, 27, has beaten champions Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce De Leon in that stretch and has finally broken into the mythical pound-for-pound rankings lists.

He also boldly sought Nonito Donaire before the Filipino was defeated this year by Guillermo Rigondeaux, extending Donaire $3 million to Mares’ $1.5 million for a bout that was rejected by Donaire promoter Top Rank.

Mares says he remains open to Donaire, Rigondeaux or Top Rank’s former 130-pound champion Mikey Garcia, “but if the promotions won’t work together, there’s no legal way I can force them to fight me.”

So Mares, should he beat Gonzalez, could cast his vision on Santa Cruz at featherweight or fight the winner of the Aug. 17 WBC super-featherweight title fight between champion Takashi Miura of Japan and Sergio Thompson.

That would be a possible fourth division world title in three years.

Mares said his strength and conditioning coach tells him he can handle the extra weight -- he knocked out Ponce De Leon in May on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero undercard -- and it would keep with his philosophy that, “I want the biggest fights.

“I’ve proven myself and believe I can manage any style. I could’ve taken a fight against a no-name in Mexico this time. I chose to stay here, to keep doing it the hard way.

“I’m not putting myself out there as GQ model in this sport. I’m working to be most recognized as the best boxer, now taking on this experienced fighter with more than 60 fights and 40 knockouts under his belt. I’ll fight any fighter the people want to see me against.”

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