Abner Mares lies on his back in his dressing room as a doctor tends to a bruised eye, the swelling a testament to the war of wills he’s just won.
Before long, Mares is up on his feet again, same as the crowd in the MGM Grand Garden Arena was when they stood and applauded the show that he and Reyes put on.
The Robert Guerrero-Keith Thurman slugfest that preceded their bout may have gone off like a stick of dynamite, but the reason the smoke never really cleared from the room was because Mares and Reyes brought plenty more fire themselves, their fists doubling as kindling.
Through it all, Reyes wasn’t the only thing that Mares was battling on this night.
He’d been feeling ill for days, the strains of which are audible in his hoarse, cracking voice.
Nevertheless, Mares fought, even though he says it was a struggle for him to do so.
“I felt without energy. I felt sick,” he acknowledges. “I didn’t feel like I could throw punches because I felt like I was going to get tired.”
Still, Mares doesn’t use his illness to let himself off the hook for a performance that he felt could have been improved upon.
“I’m hard on myself because I know I can do better,” he’s quick to add. “At the end of the day, it was a good fight for Arturo Reyes. He’s a tough fighter.”
And with that, Mares begins making his way out to the hall, insisting that he go to the post-fight press conference even though he can barely speak, showing some toughness of his own.