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Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares official for Aug. 29

Fighters Network

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares is official, with the featherweight bout scheduled for Aug. 29 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center as part of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN, it was announced via press release on Thursday.

Fans have been putting pressure on Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KOs) for some time to face a significant test and this contest between two multiple-division titleholders represents a solid matchup. Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs) lost a bit of luster when he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez two years ago but most believe he has the all-around ability to push Santa Cruz.

Mares (rated No. 4 at featherweight by THE RING) has held titles in three divisions (118, 122 and 126 pounds). He lost the WBC featherweight belt to Gonzalez (who defended it twice before giving it up to Gary Russell Jr. in March) but since then has fought three times. His last outing was a unanimous decision over Arturo Reyes on the Keith Thurman-Robert Guerrero card on March 7 in Las Vegas.

It was a flat performance by Mares’ standards but the 29-year-old said afterward that he’d been fighting illness.

“I’m really excited for this fight, it’s a fight the fans have been asking for and I’m ready to give them what they want — a great show and a great victory,” said Mares. “L.A. is my home, I train here, grew up here and I’m ready to show this city and the world that I am the champ.”

Santa Cruz, meanwhile, defended his IBF bantamweight title three times before moving up to capture the WBC title at junior featherweight with a third-round knockout of Victor Terrazas in 2013. He has successfully defended that belt four times and is currently rated No. 2 at 122 pounds by THE RING. The 26-year-old’s most recent fight was a 10-round unanimous decision over Jose Cayetano at featherweight.

“This fight means so much to me because I know it is what the fans have been waiting for,” said Santa Cruz. “The opportunity to fight at Staples Center against a Mexican warrior and great fighter in Abner Mares is one that I plan on taking very seriously. We have been preparing for this moment for a very long time and I’m so glad it’s finally here. A win is going to take one of us to the next level.”