Abner Mares-Leo Santa Cruz showdown targeted for August 29
A possible showdown between Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz is something fight fans, particular Mexican-Americans fans in Southern California, have wanted for the last year or so.
So has Mares. The good thing is he may not have to wait that much longer for that fight to happen.
There is a strong indication Mares and Santa Cruz will finally meet inside the ring. The target date is Aug. 29, with the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the likely venue where the fight will take place.
The fight makes sense as both reside in the Los Angeles area and are advised by Al Haymon. Santa Cruz has been the subject of ridicule by fight fans on social media for the opponents he has faced in recent months.
In his last fight on May 2, Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 knockouts) easily defeated Jose Cayetano in Las Vegas. It was his first bout fought at the featherweight limit. Prior to the Cayetano bout, Santa Cruz had easy knockout wins over Manuel Roman and Jesus Ruiz.
After being stopped by Jhonny Gonzalez in August of 2013, Mares has won his last three bouts. In his last bout on March 7, Mares defeated Arturo Santos Reyes over 10 rounds in Las Vegas.
In mid-April, Mares fanned the flames of a possible showdown with Santa Cruz when he appeared on ‘El Show de Piolin,’ a syndicated Spanish-language radio show. Mares challenged Santa Cruz to fight him (on May 2) on the air, pointing out Santa Cruz had no opponent prior to Cayetano being selected.
“I had brought it up,” Mares told RingTV.com. “That’s the reason I called out Leo. Not because I’m a jerk or that I think I’m all that. But because I think it’s a proper fight. I think it’s a good fight. I saw the opportunity. He had no opponent on the (Floyd) Mayweather card. Who doesn’t want to be on that card? I thought the fight between us two would be perfect for that card. But he (fought) someone else.”
Aside from Staples Center, the nearby StubHub Center in Carson, California is another viable venue where the Mares-Santa Cruz could take place.
Staples Center seems like the likelier venue, considering their fan bases in the Los Angeles area and surrounding areas, along with fight fans along the Mexican border could attract a bigger crowd. Regardless of the venue, Mares believes his fight against Santa Cruz could rival another big fight between two Los Angeles-area fighters.
“It’d be super-big,” said Mares, who was once managed by Frank Espinoza. “I think the fans are more than anxious and they’re ready for this fight to happen. For me as a fighter, I’m ready to make this happen. I agree with Leo (in the past). This fight needs to be promoted right so you can make this fight big. It’s going to be a big card. It’ll be like another (Oscar) De La Hoya-Shane Mosley in L.A.”
Mares believed Santa Cruz was relying too much on Haymon and other managers, something he told Santa Cruz on the radio show in April.
“I feel that he’s been depending too much on his promoter/manager. When I confronted him, that’s what I told him, that we’re our own boss. If you want the fight, make it happen. Just tell me that you want to make it happen. It’s a perfect fight and you don’t want to let the fight marinate too much. You don’t know what might happen next. He might get injured. He might lose. It (the fight) might die a little bit.
“We have to take advantage of the time. It’s a great fight for both of us. I can’t wait for it to happen.”
Santa Cruz, who holds the WBC junior featherweight title, will have to move up in weight to the featherweight division to face Mares.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing