- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former three-division titleholder Abner Mares will get a chance to reclaim his featherweight world title when he faces Jhonny Gonzalez in a rematch on Feb. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Although the deal is not signed, Schaefer said he received email confirmation from Gonzalez's promoter accepting the terms they had negotiated. Schaefer, who promotes Mares, said he is finalizing Mares' side of the deal with manager Frank Espinoza, but the key was getting Gonzalez to agree.
"We did get an email confirmation from Jhonny Gonzalez's promoter, Oswaldo Kuchle, saying that they accepted the terms," Schaefer said. "We were going back and forth and they have accepted the terms, and they also confirmed it to the WBC. I like signed contracts but for all intents and purposes this fight will happen Feb. 15 at the Staples Center."
Showtime will televise the card, which could be a tripleheader, Schaefer said.
Mares, a former bantamweight and junior featherweight titlist and one of the hottest rising stars in boxing, knocked out Daniel Ponce De Leon to win a featherweight title in May, the third weight class in which Mares had won a world title in a brilliant 21-month stretch. In his first featherweight title defense on Aug. 24, Mares took on Gonzalez -- who had once employed a young Mares as a sparring partner in 2006 -- and was stunningly knocked down twice and stopped in the first round as Gonzalez pulled the upset to win a featherweight title for the second time.
In the contract for the fight, Espinoza negotiated a rematch clause, which Mares (26-1-1, 14 KOs), 28, a 2004 Mexican Olympian based in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., exercised shortly after the loss. Although Gonzalez (55-8, 47 KOs), 32, of Mexico, was obligated to face Mares again, he threatened to not go through with the rematch and it was difficult to work out the details.
"They reneged on the deal but Richard was ready to get him stripped if he didn't comply with the contract they signed," Espinoza told ESPN.com. "There was a rematch clause in the contract and [Gonzalez] would have been violating it if he didn't do the rematch.
"Abner is looking forward to fighting Feb. 15. We work well with Golden Boy and Richard and we'll work out the rest of our deal this week. We should have it all done this week."
Espinoza said nobody should judge Mares on less than one full round against Gonzalez and that things will be different in the rematch.
"He just got caught and he got stopped," Espinoza said. "You can't judge a fight on less than one round. It's not like Abner went in there and lost after seven or eight rounds and was getting beat up. He got caught. It's boxing. Abner is looking forward to coming back. He's looking for redemption."
Said Schaefer, "I remember back in the day when I was working with [Top Rank's] Bob [Arum] and I would have these conversations with (Hall of Fame matchmaker) Bruce Trampler and he always said to me that when a guy gets knocked out in the first round it's almost like it doesn't count because you can't read too much into it. Abner was winning the first round and he got caught. I take nothing away from Jhonny. But Abner had some (undisclosed) issues in his training camp. He never brought it up or complained about it or used it as an excuse, but I know for a fact he had issues in camp.
"He will be refocused and knows what he has to do. I think it will be a very interesting fight. It's a very dangerous fight. Jhonny's will cannot be underestimated and he will come in with a lot of momentum having won the first fight by a knockout. I do believe Abner is the more skilled fighter but Jhonny is dangerous as hell. He has that game changer -- one-punch knockout power that can come at any time."
Schaefer said he has not worked out the undercard fights but said that if junior featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (25-0-1, 15 KOs) retains his title against Cesar Seda (25-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio on a Showtime-televised card featuring four world title fights that he could return Feb. 15.
"We're hoping to do a tripleheader," Schaefer said. "I want to see what happens this weekend and see how everything goes. If Leo looks good and doesn't get cut we might have him back. I have a lot of ideas but I'm not ready to talk about them all yet."
1dMalik Smith, ESPN Stats & Information