Former three-division champs Abner Mares and Fernando Montiel to slug it out March 12

There’s little doubt that Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter will serve fight fans a delicious main course in their much-anticipated,147-pound world title bout March 12. But first those fans will be treated to an appetizer that has the potential to be just as tasty.

Abner Mares

Abner Mares, shown training prior to his August 29 brawl with Leo Santa Cruz, returns to the ring March 12 when he faces fellow former three-time champ Fernando Montiel. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

Before the Thurman-Porter showdown at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, former three-division champions Abner Mares and Fernando Montiel—two 126-pound, Mexican-born, high-volume punchers—will clash in a 10-round bout. Both fights will air live on CBS (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT).

Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) and Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs) are each coming off hard-fought losses to undefeated 126-pound titleholders. Mares dropped a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz on August 29 in an all-out slugfest that ended up being a Fight of the Year candidate.

In a similarly action-packed brawl six weeks later, Montiel lost a unanimous decision to Lee Selby in a fight that appeared closer than the judges’ scores suggested.

While Mares had won three in a row prior to his narrow loss to Santa Cruz, Montiel had an eight-fight winning streak snapped, his loss to Selby being his first setback since November 2011.

“I’m ready to get back in the ring and have the boxing world see the monster that the Mares and Robert Garcia partnership is creating,” Mares said, referring to his new trainer. “I’m a tough fighter. I’ve made some adjustments, and I will show my warrior spirit and skill on March 12. It’s time to go to work.”

In addition to their Mexican heritage, Mares and Montiel share a slew of other common traits. The 30-year-old Mares is 5-foot-4½ with a 66-inch reach, and he’s won titles at 118, 122 and 126 pounds. Montiel, a 36-year-old former champ at 112, 115 and 118 pounds, is 5-4 with a 66½-inch reach.

Perhaps the biggest similarity, though, is a willingness to let their fists fly, often with little regard for their own safety. That figures to be the case once again come March 12, as both fighters have their sights set on jumping back into the championship picture.

“I have been wanting to fight Abner Mares for many years,” Montiel said. “They say that styles make fights, and Abner Mares’ style is tailor-made for me.

“My last fight was a close decision against one of the best featherweights in the world in Lee Selby. I need to make every fight count, and on March 12 Abner Mares will be my next step to another world title.”

For complete coverage of Mares vs Montiel, check out our fight page.

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