LAS VEGAS -- Former three-division titleholder Abner Mares made a triumphant return to the ring 11 months after he got wiped out in one round and lost his featherweight world title to Jhonny Gonzalez.
Mares won a unanimous decision against Jonathan Oquendo in a sloppy fight that featured a lot of grappling and booing from the crowd on Saturday night at the MGM Grand on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara fight.
But for Mares, a former three-division titleholder, it was a welcome relief from his previous fight.
"I think I did good," Mares said. "I felt a little rusty. I did feel kind of sluggish in there but I'm happy with the win. That's all that counts." The judges all had it for Mares, 98-92, 98-92 and 96-94. ESPN.com also had it for Mares, 96-94.
Mares (27-1-1, 14 KOs), 31, a former Mexican Olympian who lives in Southern California, suffered a terrible cut over his left eye in the fourth round, causing referee Kenny Bayless, who ruled the cut was caused by a punch, to call timeout so the ringside doctor could take a look. Mares was allowed to continue but blood was coming down the side of his face.
His corner did a fine job closing the wound, which was not a factor for the remainder of the fight, which had the crowd restless because of the grappling and lack of action.
Mares, normally a very aggressive fighter, was a bit more controlled because that is the style taught by Virgil Hunter, the trainer he was working with for the first time.
Mares said he is ready for any of the top 126-pounders.
"I want my rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez," he said. "I want any featherweight. I'm back. I came back strong."
Oquendo (24-4, 16 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, gave a solid effort but was outworked by Mares. Oquendo has now lost the three times he has faced a top-level opponent, also suffering defeats to former world titleholders Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Juan Manuel Lopez.
Vargas hammers Lopez
Junior lightweight Francisco Vargas (20-0-1, 14 KOs) scored the biggest win of his career, dominating, dropping and stopping former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez (34-4, 31 KOs) when Lopez's corner pulled him out of the fight at the end of the third round.
"I'm very happy with this win. I prepared for this moment and I'm ready for anyone at 130 [pounds]," Vargas said through a translator. "The way I won was with the combination of upper and lower body shots. I know he's a warrior but after we did the combinations my corner knew it was over and we would knock him down."
Vargas, who may have punched his way into a world title shot, had hurt Lopez in the second round and continued to pound him in the third round. They engaged in an extended ferocious exchange but Lopez was getting the worst of it by far. Vargas was strafing him with head shots and finally knocked him down with 15 seconds left in the round. Lopez got to his feet and waded right back into battle and Vargas continued to blast him. When the round was over, referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fight at the request of the Lopez corner.
"I wanted to keep fighting but my corner decided I had enough," Lopez said through a translator. "I'm a warrior and I would have fought to the end. I really don't know if I want to retire but I will talk to my promoters and see what we decide."
Lopez, 31, of Puerto Rico, seemingly resurrected his career in March when he knocked out former two-division titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon, but it was a mirage. Ponce De Leon was just as faded as Lopez and retired after the fight. Lopez, a southpaw and former junior featherweight and featherweight titleholder, might be on his way to joining him after taking a beating from Vargas, 29, a 2008 Mexican Olympian who is managed by Joel De La Hoya, promoter Oscar De La Hoya's brother. Lopez has been knocked out in all four of his defeats.
• Mauricio Herrera (21-4, 7 KOs), fighting for the first time since his controversial March 15 majority decision loss to unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, won an interim junior welterweight title against Johan Perez (19-2-1, 13 KOs) in an action-packed fight.
Although Herrera seemed to get the better of Perez for most of the fight it was a highly entertaining affair throughout, one he won on scores of 116-112 and 116-112 while the third judge scored it 114-114.
"It was difficult at first because of his awkward style," Herrera said. "It took me a minute to get used to his style. At first he was making me miss a lot of my shots but then, after I relaxed and adjusted to his style, I was able to take control and put more pressure on him. I felt like I was the hungrier fighter in there tonight."
Herrera, 34, of Riverside, California, and the crowd favorite, rocked Perez, who was making his second defense, with a booming right hand in the fifth round, but it was just before the bell and he did not have the opportunity to follow up.
The eighth round brought the crowd to its feet as the fighters spent a long period of the round in a wild toe-to-toe exchange in the middle of the ring. A hard right hand just before the bell ended the 11th round rocked Perez, 31, of Venezuela, again.
"Herrera had a difficult style. I thought it was a close fight but I felt I won it. I'm really surprised by the decision and I would like an immediate rematch," Perez said through a translator.
• Bantamweight Tomoki Kameda (30-0, 19 KOs) celebrated his 23rd birthday with a one-punch knockout of mandatory challenger Pungluang Sor Singyu (46-3, 31 KOs) in the seventh round to retain his world title for the second time. Japan's Kameda, who is based in Mexico and fights out of the Canelo Promotions stable, had the distinct speed advantage and also boxed and moved well, touching Sor Singyu with punches and moving away without taking much in return. But Sor Singyu, 26, of Thailand, continued to barrel ahead and stunned Kameda with a hard right hand in the fourth round. He also attacked Kameda to the body. But Kameda routinely beat Sor Singyu to the punch and moved side to side, which Sor Singyu could not deal with. In the seventh round, Kameda landed a pinpoint left hook to the liver and Sor Singyu dropped to the canvas immediately. He was writhing in pain as referee Russell Mora called it off at 1 minute, 35 seconds.
• Southpaw middleweight Yamaguchi Falcao (2-0, 1 KOs), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist from Brazil now living in Los Angeles, stopped Puerto Rico's Jesus M. Cruz (1-2-1, 0 KOs), who retired on his stool after the third round of a one-sided fight.
• Middleweight Jason Quigley (1-0, 1 KO), a 23-year-old standout amateur from Ireland who recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions, made his professional debut in a sloppy but one-sided first-round knockout victory against Howard Reece (2-7, 1 KO) of Ocala, Florida. It was a massive mismatch. Quigley, who looked several inches taller than Reece, dropped him early in the round with a right hand and pummeled him until referee Jay Nady stopped the fight at 1 minute, 22 seconds.
• Junior featherweight Enrique Quevedo (16-7-1, 9 KOs) of Los Angeles scored an upset, fifth-round knockout of former world title challenger Yoandris Salinas (20-1-2, 13 KOs), the Miami-based Cuban defector. Salinas was fighting for the first time since he battled to a draw challenging junior featherweight titlist Scott Quigg in London in October, but he had very little to offer. Quevedo was landing right hands, which raised swelling around Salinas' left eye in the third round. In the fourth round he caught Salinas with a combination that dropped him. Quevedo continued to throw a lot more punches than Salinas and began to really hurt him in the fifth round when he dropped Salinas again with a sustained flurry. Salinas made it to his feet, but he was done and Quevedo dropped him moments later with a left uppercut in the midst of another flurry, and referee Russell Mora called it off without a count at 2 minutes, 56 seconds.
• Puerto Rican junior welterweight prospect John Karl Sosa (12-0, 6 KOs) won a split decision against Luis Bello (5-2, 2 KOs) of Mexico in the opening bout of the card. Sosa appeared to clearly win and two judges scored the fight 59-55 in his favor, but one scored it 59-55 for Bello.