Was Sunday night a curtain call or a warm-up for bigger things for Abner Mares?
A sport that can be polarizing when its at its best delivered a lukewarm finale for one of its brighter stars upon his return.
Abner Mares and Miguel Flores put on a show, only to see the bout rendered a majority draw with one official calling the fight 96-94 in favor of the comeback kid and the other two seeing things dead even (95-95).
Boxing doesn’t lend itself to patience. It’s a sport dedicated to timing, speed and the brutally short window for its fighters.
One man trying to squeeze whatever juice he has left out of the sport is Abner Mares. And his journey back to the ring finally commenced on Sunday evening before an anxious Cryopto.com Arena crowd.
Whether it was the previous fights lacking firepower or the sweltering heat outside, it’s clear the crowd was feeling it on Sunday. By the eighth round, a fight broke out among fans. For a moment, Mares and Flores were contending with some fans who decided to throw some punches of their own.
As for Mares, he certainly showed flashes of classic Abner. It was clear from the early rounds that the former champion still had the power and speed to contend with a fighter like Miguel Flores, but did he have the legs?
"I didn't have any problems in there," he said after the fight. "I felt good, I was just getting used to the timing again. After four years away I did enough to beat a young kid and an active fighter. My performance speaks for itself. The crowd was happy and it felt good to be home. I definitely felt like I won but it is what it is, the judges saw a draw."
While the judges submit there was enough here for a draw, the numbers don’t lie and Mares clearly outboxed Flores where it mattered.
Mares landed 23% of his punches, landing 151 to Flores’s 124. And the power was there, putting the 30-year-old from Morelia, Mexico, on his heels a few times on Sunday night. Both fighters threw 380 power punches with Mares landing 126 to Flores’s 117.
Flores would beg to differ. "It was a good fight and obviously I thought that I pulled it off," he said. "I know we're in his hometown and he's a veteran so it is what it is."
"This leaves me in a great position," Flores continued. "We got a draw against a three-division world champion so it leaves a good taste in your mouth."
Heading into Sunday’s clash, Mares made a point to say that this fight was about him. He owed it to himself to get back to the ring and savor the moment.
While four-years outside the ring certainly showed a parts in the later rounds, Mares put together a remarkable comeback fight that stands on its own merit.
"Obviously it had been over four years, so I was a little off with my timing and a little sluggish," Mares said. "But I felt good and I thought I was landing the more powerful shots."
If this is the end for the 36-year-old boxer, he reminded the world what it has been missing. With deft footwork, speed and power, the Mares we all missed made more than a few cameos. It was certainly enough to want more.