Last night boxing delivered one of the more emphatic upsets seen in any sport. Undefeated Abner Mares, the WBC Featherweight Champion, and consistently seen as one of the top 15 pound for pound fighters in the world, was finished within one round last night. The rugged veteran, Jhonny Gonzalez, a 31 year old who had been spotty in his last three outings in the division, crippled Mares with a clean left hook with 36 seconds remaining in round one. Mares was able to reach his feet, only to hit his backside late in round one after Gonzalez swarmed him. Referee Jack Reiss soon after stopped the fight, and Gonzalez claimed the biggest win, and upset, of his career.
Gonzalez suffered his last loss to Daniel Ponce de Leon, who Mares easily handled with a 9th round knockout. The talk before this fight was centered around a potential matchup of Mares and Leo Santa Cruz, who finished Victor Terrazas in a junior featherweight affair in the third round on the Mares-Gonzalez undercard. Both Mares and Santa Cruz were undefeated, and the fight would have brought some more casual fans into the featherweight division. Gonzalez was seen as a stepping stone, which makes the upset, especially in the first round, all the more stunning.
We knew Gonzalez had power, but Mares had shown a solid chin and technical superiority as a boxer. Gonzalez was a guy who many fans believed could not elevate back to the featherweight elite. I personally thought Mares would run through Gonzalez. I was stunned to see such a statement, yet it went unnoticed.
Boxing, a sport that had long been the world's most popular combat sport, has faded into obscurity faster and faster. With fighters constantly "ducking" each other, promoters only having their fighters fight each other, and way, way too many belts, the casual fan is lost in the shuffle. An upset of this caliber got one statement on the ESPN bottom line, and that was about it. Sure boxing columnists covered the unbelievable story that unfolded, but unless you watched the fight on Showtime, you essentially missed the left hook that stunned the boxing world. Casual fans, especially Americans, love an underdog story, but they also love knockouts. This delivered both, and sadly, most fans have no clue it even happened.