LAS VEGAS -- Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s welterweight title defense against Robert Guerrero is the main event, but the real attraction for many Mexican fight fans on the Cinco De Mayo weekend card on Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is the expected action-packed co-feature.
That fight will feature a pair of exciting Mexican fighters and former Olympians in a much-anticipated bout: Featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs) will make his first defense when he faces former bantamweight and junior featherweight titlist Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13 KOs), who vacated his junior featherweight belt earlier this year to move up in weight.
"Great fight," Ponce De Leon said. "Two Mexican warriors. We're expecting a great fight."
Said Mares, "I'm excited to be fighting Daniel Ponce De Leon, another warrior."
Few expect anything less than an action-packed battle.
That being the case, the fighters -- who are exceptionally respectful of their opponents -- haven't had a bad word to say about each other. Besides, they are friendly with each other, have trained in the same gym and are also connected because they share manager Frank Espinoza, who has gone through great pains to keep everything equal between them, including negotiating with Golden Boy to get them career-best purses of $375,000 apiece.
"We know each other," said Ponce De Leon, a former junior featherweight titlist. "We've been training in the same gym, and that's why I'm expecting a great fight, because we've known each other for so many years."
The respect between Ponce De Leon and Mares is refreshing and hasn't gone unnoticed by Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya.
"They're very professional. They both respect each other. You don't have the trash-talking," De La Hoya said. "You don't have the back-and-forth bickering with one another. It's all about getting in there and fighting. Abner Mares knows he's in a tough fight. Ponce De Leon knows he's in a tough fight.
"It's two L.A. kids that are going to bring back those memories of the Olympic Auditorium when we used to watch those Tuesday night fights every single week. You would see a war, and that's what we're going to have with Abner Mares and Ponce De Leon. It's all business and they know that. They know that they're going to come out of the fight cut and bruised, and maybe knocked down a few times. They knew that right from the start, right from when they signed the contracts. They know they're going to get beat up, but they respect that and that's the beauty of it."