From time to time, an assignment comes along that leaves an impression on me. This was one of those assignments.

Asked by German newsweekly Der Spiegel to spend a couple of days documenting the life of Bantamweight boxer Abner Mares, I was more than excited. As a long time fan of the “sweet science” of boxing, I was eager to blend my passion for storytelling with a chance to spend time with a professional boxer.

Abner is a story of survival, a humble man who fought through tough times to become a champion of his sport. Growing up in Hawaiian Gardens, a neighborhood known for it’s gang raids, Abner is now an unofficial ambassador for the tiny community. Though he lives just a few miles away, he’s often in the area and is stopped constantly by old friends. The city even displays the information about his upcoming events on the sign outside City Hall.

He’s certainly devoted to his training, as his undefeated record of 23-0 will attest. His trademark is the face mask he wears when entering the ring, a signature look designed by OG Abel. He fights Eric Morel on April 21, 2012 on Showtime.

Todd Bigelow Photography

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