Abner Mares returns to boxing after 4 years out of the ring

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — When an accomplished boxer in his thirties returns to the ring after a four-year absence and a potentially serious health issue, most fight fans assume — rightly, in most case – that it is because the fighter spent all his money.

“Thank God it’s not me,” Abner Mares said with a chuckle.

That’s an understatement, as Mares, 36, has pretty much laid out the blueprint for a champion boxer who smartly moves on to the next stage of his life.

But the former three-division world champion wasn’t quite ready for the start of this next stage just yet, and that’s why Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) is back to face Miguel Flores. on the pay-per-view undercard of the high-profile heavyweight showdown between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Luis Ortiz on Sunday night in downtown Los Angeles.

“I’m just coming back for the love,” Mares told The Associated Press. “If I don’t do it now, I will regret it for the rest of my life. I am 36 years old. I am so capable. If I had to wait another year, two more years and be like, “Man, you should have taken that fight,” I would never forgive myself.

Mares has plenty of other ways to spend her time than getting up at dawn for a conditioning job and then sweating it out in a hot gym.

He was a Fox Sports commentator even before an eye injury, and he landed a job at Showtime at the start of the pandemic. He and his wife, who have been married since he began his professional career 17 years ago, have responsibly invested much of his career earnings to provide a comfortable life for their two daughters, who are in private school.

“At first they were like, ‘Why come back?'” Mares said. “’We are comfortable. Was good. Why put us through this? Because really, I put them in nervous moments. I can just come back and have fun, but they must be worried. They are always supportive. They are still behind me 100%, but they want this to be my last fight, hopefully.

Mares has never really intended to step away from the ring since June 2018, when he lost an entertaining rematch with Leo Santa Cruz. He booked a reunion with Gervonta “Tank” Davis for February 2019, but had to drop out due to retinal detachment suffered during a practice session.

Mares underwent successful surgery and was cleared to return to boxing a year later – the doctor who performed the operation will even be in action on Sunday. But his recovery coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and Mares began to enjoy his comfortable after-ring life as the next two years dragged on.

“Sometimes it felt like it was that,” Mares said. “There was no more love, no more passion for the sport, until committing to return to training and wanting to fight. I was comfortable behind the desk to comment. … It wasn’t until I saw Tank Davis fight (Mario) Barrios (in June 2021) that I felt something hot. I felt alive again. I felt this desire to come back.

While Mares remains an exceptional dresser who likes to wear Louis Vuitton sunglasses indoors, this flash is only on the surface. He is a cerebral boxer who frequently advises other fighters to spend their winnings responsibly.

He learned financial prudence after a childhood spent between Guadalajara and the tough Los Angeles suburb of Hawaiian Gardens, and now he advises others to follow his lead – a point of view too few boxers hear early in their careers.

When 12-0 American lightweight Jose Valenzuela admired Mares’ watch during a promotional appearance this week, Mares told him to up his jewelry game “whenever you’re comfortable enough to get some.” a. Don’t get it just because you want to show off. Examples like that, I would have liked to have them.

If Mares wins on Sunday night, he doesn’t seem ready to give up. He said he would entertain a third shot at Santa Cruz after their two close encounters, and would welcome the chance to finally fight Davis, the current WBA lightweight champion.

But a meeting with the tried and true Flores in downtown Los Angeles is the first step, and Mares refuses to let his passion ruin his plans.

“I have no pressure to look a certain way or to do anything,” Mares said. “I’m just going to take baby steps, let it all sink in, absorb this good energy. This might be my last fight, so I’m just going to enjoy the moment.

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