WASHINGTON, D.C. — WBC featherweight titleholder Abner Mares will defend his belt against former beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez on Aug. 24 at The StubHub Center (formerly The Home Depot Center) in Carson, Calif., on Showtime, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told RingTV.com on Tuesday.
Mares (26-0-1, 14 knockouts) won the WBC belt by stopping Daniel Ponce de Leon in nine rounds on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero card on May 4, making Mares a three-division titlewinner.
Ponce de Leon had won the title with an eight-round technical decision over Gonzalez (54-8, 46 KOs) last September, ending a winning streak by Gonzalez at 12 fights (which included 11 knockouts).
Gonzalez, 31, has since rebounded with consecutive wins over Eusebio Osejo and Akihiko Katagiri by unanimous decision and fourth-round knockout in February and April, respectively.
“We have verbal agreements,” Schaefer said. “Mares is going to be fighting Jhonny Gonzalez, and Leo Santa Cruz is moving up in weight to fight WBC champion Victor ‘Viking’ Terrazas.
“And we’re going to do those two fights as a doubleheader on Aug. 24 from Carson, which was the Home Depot Center, but now, it’s called the StubHub. It’s going to be a terrific, terrific double-header, and I think that it’s going to be another sellout in Carson.”
Golden Boy’s card featuring a fight between Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez on June 8 sold out.
Mares, 27, has fought a string of elite opponents, having twice beaten ex-beltholder Joseph Agbeko, earning a decision over former beltholder Vic Darchinyan and battling to a draw with then-beltholder Yonnhy Perez — all over a 20-month span as a bantamweight — before moving up to junior featherweight.
After defeating Agbeko by consecutive majority and unanimous decisions, the latter in December of 2011, Mares rose to 122 pounds for a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Eric Morel in April of last year to earn the WBC’s belt.
In November of last year, Mares scored a unanimous decision over WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno, who rose in weight to challenge for the junior featherweight belt. Mares dropped the Panamanian in the fifth round and ended his winning streak at 27.
In Santa Cruz’s last fight, also on the May 4 Mayweather-Guerrero card, he debuted as a junior featherweight by dropping former 115-pound beltholder Alexander Munoz twice en route to a fifth-round TKO.
Munoz, who won his first 23 bouts by stoppage, was knocked out for the first time in his career by Santa Cruz, a 24-year-old from Rosemead, Calif. Santa Cruz rose from the bantamweight division, where he won the IBF belt by defeating Vusi Malinga by a unanimous decision last June.
After facing Munoz, Santa Cruz had been mandated to challenge Terrazas, 30, whose promoter, Zanfer President Fernando Beltran, has close ties with Golden Boy rival Top Rank. In April, Terrazas won the belt vacated by Mares, winning a split-decision over Cristian Mijares.
Last month, Golden Boy won the right to promote the Santa Cruz-Terrazas bout, with company representative Ramiro Gonzalez outbidding Zanfer Promotions $526,000 to $451,000.
The Mares-Gonzalez card could become a triple-header if Schaefer is able to place southpaw 126-pounder Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Md., on the show.
Schaefer spoke to RingTV.com at The Howard Theatre, where he was participating in a press conference for the Sept. 14 clash between Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. It was the second stop in an 11-city tour.
Photos by Al Bello, Getty Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]