- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Jhonny Gonzalez’s first-round knockout of Abner Mares to win a featherweight world title on Aug. 24 was one of the most surprising results of 2013. And because Mares, who was making his first defense, had a rematch clause, they are going to do it again.
They’ll duke it out Feb. 15 (Showtime) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. On Thursday, Golden Boy Promotions made the fight we’ve known was coming official.
Neither fighter has fought since Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KOs) stopped Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs), who used to be a Gonzalez sparring partner when Mares was a young prospect.
“Abner Mares gave me my shot and now I'm giving him his,” said Gonzalez, a two-time featherweight titlist and former bantamweight titleholder. “I respect what he's done in the ring and the heart he shows every time he fights, but I worked too hard for this to give it up now. I will keep my title on Feb. 15.”
Mares, who won titles in three divisions in a 21-month span, aims to regain his belt, of course.
“I'd like to thank Jhonny Gonzalez for this opportunity,” Mares said. “It will be an honor to fight him a second time. Aug. 24 was his night and I take nothing away from him, but Feb. 15 will be my night, and I'm going to get my title back.”
You have to figure the rematch will last longer than a round and be an exciting fight because Gonzalez and Mares have been in a series of crowd-pleasing bouts. Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer is planning to put on a tripleheader, but Gonzalez-Mares II is a worthy headliner.
“This fight says a lot about both Jhonny Gonzalez and Abner Mares,” Schaefer said. “Jhonny wants to leave no doubt about his first win and Abner wanted to get another shot at him immediately. These are two great warriors and I can't wait to see them fight again.”