- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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From the moment Golden Boy Promotions signed bantamweight titlist Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno in 2011 and brought him to the United States to fight for the first time, he was on a collision course with the company's other standout bantamweight titleholder, Abner Mares.
With Mares headlining and Moreno on the undercard, they fought on the same show in their past two fights. And now they will be on the same show again -- except this time opposing each other.
Mares, who moved up in weight and won a vacant junior featherweight title by rolling to a near-shutout decision against former flyweight titlist Eric Morel on April 21, will make his first defense against Moreno, who will move up in weight for the opportunity, Moreno adviser Sampson Lewkowicz told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
The bout is scheduled for Oct. 27 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and will headline a Showtime-televised tripleheader. Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza told ESPN.com that the other two bouts were not yet set.
"I'm reviewing the contracts with my lawyer, but we are just making sure everything is in order," Lewkowicz said. "But the fight will definitely happen. The only way it doesn't happen is if Mares changes his mind."
Lewkowicz said Moreno has not vacated his 118-pound title but has received sanctioning organization permission to challenge for Mares' 122-pound belt.
"Chemito Moreno has said he wants to fight Abner Mares all of the time -- at 118, 122 or 126 pounds," Lewkowicz said. "I believe there is nobody at 118 or 122 or 126 that can beat my fighter. It will be a very good fight but I think the difference between Abner Mares and Moreno is that Chemito Moreno requested to fight Abner Mares and Abner Mares took the fight because he basically had no choice. There was no one else acceptable in this moment to Showtime for him to fight other than Chemito Moreno.
"When I received the call we took this fight right away. For Mares and his manager (Frank Espinoza), they took a few weeks to make the decision. All of my fighters will take fights in a heartbeat. I prove that time after time. My fighters fight anyone. Sergio Martinez, Gabriel Campillo, Javier Fortuna and Chemito Moreno, all of them. We don't need to talk too much. But he is very excited for this fight because he wants to fight the best. They say Mares is the best, so he wants to fight him."
Mares (24-0-1, 13 KOs), 26, of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., and a 2004 Mexican Olympian, has emerged as one of boxing's best fighters in the smaller divisions. He won a bantamweight title on a majority decision against Joseph Agbeko last August and defended it via decision in a lopsided rematch against Agbeko in December. Then Mares moved up in weight to claim a belt at junior featherweight. Mares also won Showtime's four-man bantamweight tournament.
Moreno (33-1-1, 12 KOs), a 27-year-old southpaw from Panama, has been on a tremendous run even though he is largely unknown to American fight fans. A consummate boxer, he won a bantamweight belt in 2008 and has made 10 defenses, including his last two in the United States on Mares undercards -- a lopsided unanimous decision against former junior bantamweight and flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan and a ninth-round knockout of David De La Mora on April 21.
"Mares I think, without question, is one of the stars of the division and Moreno is one of the most skilled fighters in any division, and one of the underappreciated gems of the sport," Showtime's Espinoza said. "You put them together and there are bound to be fireworks."
The card was originally being planned for Oct. 13 in Las Vegas, but Espinoza said that he wanted to avoid a broadcast conflict with a high-profile HBO card the same night featuring junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire defending his two belts against Toshiaki Nishioka and a much-anticipated battle between junior welterweight brawlers Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios.
"I have said I wanted to avoid date conflicts whenever possible," Espinoza said. "It's not always possible (such as on Sept. 15), but we're trying to put our money where our mouth is, so when the opportunity came up to get a venue that made sense on Oct. 27, we immediately jumped on it to avoid the conflict, especially since the other fight (Donaire-Nishioka) was in the same division."
Abner Mares, who moved up in weight and won a vacant junior featherweight title by rolling to a near-shutout decision against Eric Morel on April 21, will make his first defense against Anselmo Moreno, who will move up in weight for the opportunity.