Give credit to 26-year-old rising star Abner Mares (24-0-1, 13 KOs) for turning a potential stinker into an entertaining Showtime battle in a unanimous decision win over veteran former world titlist Eric Morel (46-3, 23 KOs) Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.
Mares, who would capture the vacant WBC junior featherweight title, started the bout with fire in his eyes and immediately forced the 36-year-old Morel into a fight.
Morel could have settled into a groove and used his experience to produce a slow-paced tactical bout, but Mares never gave him enough space to be the cutie. Instead, Mares' aggression nullified Morel's usually sharp jab and forced the Puerto Rican veteran to answer back as best he could or risk being blown away.
The Guadalajara-native Mares looked as sharp as he has ever been, peppering Morel with sharp shots to the head and body while always pushing forward with the confidence of a world-class fighter just reaching the prime of his career. It wasn't that Morel fought poorly, Mares was just the better fighter.
At the end of 12 rounds, the judges' scorecards, even in the mixed-up world of Texas boxing, reflected the true nature of the bout: 120-107, 119-109, and 119-109. The Boxing Tribune also scored the fight 119-109 for Mares.
On the televised undercard, Panama's Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KOs) made the 10th defense of his WBA bantamweight title with a dominant stoppage of Mexican David De la Mora (24-2, 17 KOs).
De la Mora put up a solid, but futile performance against a razor-sharp Moreno, who basically did whatever he wanted in the ring. Moreno used smart movement and a good mix of long-range punches to make it painfully obvious that De la Mora was at least two full levels below the Panamanian's class.
The Mexican would be dropped to the canvas with a head shot in the second round and then with a body shot in the sixth before realizing the futility of his endeavor and retiring from the bout at the end of the eighth round.
On the off-TV undercard, inexperienced Rowland Bryant (16-1, 11 KOs) scored a shocking third-round TKO over three-time world super middleweight challenger Librado Andrade (30-5, 23 KOs). Andrade is now 3-4 in his last seven.