Fight Picks: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares
[springboard type=”video” id=”1555925″ player=”ring003″ width=”648″ height=”511″ ]
It will be interesting to see if Mares is able to re-capture his form of old against Santa Cruz. He hasn’t looked the same fighter, labouring in his three fights since stunningly losing to Jhonny Gonzalez two years ago. While Santa Cruz, a one time fan favorite has caught their ire of fans for facing average opponents of late.
That will change this Saturday when both men look to win local bragging rights.Former RING light heavyweight champion and current heavyweight contender/”PBC” commentator Antonio Tarver sees an interesting fight that either man can win.
“This is a great match-up of young, talented champions on another great PBC show,” Tarver told RingTV.com. “Mares is battle tested and he’s been fighting monsters from a very young age. He’s shown the goods and looks to stamp himself as a pound-for-pounder with a win over Santa Cruz, who has also won his share of wars. Santa Cruz brings a high work rate, as well as a height and size advantage into this fight. Expect fireworks early and often in this 50-50 fight.”
Online gambling group bet365.com lists Santa Cruz as a slight favorite at 1/2 (-200), while Mares is priced at 13/8 (+163).
RingTV.com asked 24 boxing insiders for their picks:
Kenny Adams, trainer of 25 world champions
Leo Santa Cruz TKO 5 Abner Mares: I think Santa Cruz, stoppage fifth round. I like that kid, he’s always been sharp, he’s a helluva fighter. I know Mares is awful good but this kid can go.
Julio Cesar Chavez, former three-weight championI think it depends on Mares, if we have in this fight the best Mares we have seen, I’m sure he will win in 12 rounds, but if we have the Mares of the last fights, I’m sure Santa Cruz will win the fight by KO.
Norm Frauenheim, The Ring magazine/www.15rounds.com
Leo Santa Cruz SD 12 Abner Mares: Don’t be surprised if this is just the first one between old friends, former sparring partners, current rivals and emerging business partners. They know each other well enough to keep it close, very close.
There’s a question about whether Santa Cruz’s skills have lost their edge against a succession of over matched foes. There’s a question about whether Abner Mares has grown too cautious since he was knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez. There’s no answers for either until opening bell. The guess here is that both will overcome the doubts and let their instincts dictate what they do, especially in the late rounds. That’s when Santa Cruz will use his advantage in reach and rely on his busy style for a victory narrow enough to dictate a rematch.
Jeffrey Freeman, www.KODigest.TV
Abner Mares SD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: Pride is what’s really on the line here, not some featherweight title belt made of diamonds and paper. This fight is all about Mexican bragging rights in Los Angeles and the Staples Center will be rocking for this rivalry in the making. Remember when Abner Mares used to run right through world class opponents, crafty boxers and powerful sluggers alike? I think that guy is finally back and will be in the mood to remind critics just how good he really is when he’s fit and motivated. Leo Santa Cruz is a rangy young technician but he’s never been in the ring with anyone on the level of Mares. “Pressure busts pipes,” somebody once said. Or it makes diamonds. Consequently, Santa Cruz will offer Mares very stiff resistance. Memorably, Mares will overcome it in a competitive clash that turns into a Fight of the Year candidate down the stretch. Rematch anyone? How about a trilogy?
Leo Santa Cruz UD 12 Abner Mares: Before Mares’ loss to Jhonny Gonzalez, I would have sided with Mares due to his resume of facing better competition. But something about Mares has seemed off since the Gonzalez loss. From a break up to make up with Clemente Medina while moonlighting with Virgil Hunter for a fight, he just seems out of sync. Although Santa Cruz hasn’t exactly blown the doors off in his last couple of fights, the sheer volume of punches could steal away any rounds that Mares has a lull in. If you pair that with Santa Cruz’ length (even though he doesn’t always use it), Mares will likely have to eat a few punches to get inside. But he’ll be outworked in those moments and the judges will score any close rounds for Santa Cruz. I anticipate this being an all-action fight that might produce some high drama moments. However, if Santa Cruz needed somebody to get up for, Mares will be it and I expect him to win a close, but unanimous decision.Badou Jack, WBC super middleweight
Abner Mares PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: It’s going to be a good fight. Santa Cruz always comes to fight, Abner Mares has a little more skills. I think Mares by decision.
Reggie Johnson, former middleweight and light heavyweight champion
Leo Santa Cruz TKO Abner Mares: I give Santa Cruz a slight edge if you twist my arm but I think it’s a pretty even match up. I think it’s a good fight for the fight fans. I can see the fight not going the distance. I do think one of the guys surprises everybody and stops the other guy. It’s a very evenly matched fight.
Oswaldo K├╝chle, Promoter Promociones del Pueblo
Leo Santa Cruz to beat Abner Mares: I feel that Santa Cruz will win, he’s young and a great boxer-puncher, he controls the pace and is very accurate. I think Mares is not the same fighter he was prior of his bout against Jhonny Gonzalez. That brutal KO he received has had consequences to Mares, he is just not the same. Santa Cruz will win.
Diego Morilla, XNSports.com, RingTV.com, HBO.com
Leo Santa Cruz TKO 10 Abner Mares: A couple of years ago, Santa Cruz would have been the favorite to win by a solid margin on points in this battle of pure boxers. But Mares has not shown much progress after his debacle in his loss to Gonzalez in 2013, and in spite of some terrific performances he never quite lived up to the lofty Pound-for-Pound expectations placed on him early in his career. Santa Cruz is at his peak and showing terrific potential, and his imposing physique alone will be one of the determining factors in the fight. The question of whether Haymon’s weak matchmaking has had any effect in Santa Cruz’s confidence is the only wild card here, but not even that will be enough to stop Santa Cruz from administering a steady beating to force a late stoppage or wide decision in his favor.
Scott Quigg, junior featherweight
Abner Mares to beat Leo Santa Cruz: I’m going with Abner Mares. I think he’s got more to his game. I believe he has the edge in power and speed and can box and fight we’ve only ever seen Santa Cruz box one way that’s come forward and it’s all one paced.
I think it will show that Mares has been in with the better fighters and is the naturally bigger fighter and Santa Cruz work will not have the same effect against the bigger fighter. But one punch that’s vital an will play a big part in the outcome is who can dominate there jab an dictate the pace of the fight.
John J. Raspanti, Maxboxing.com/Doghouseboxing.com/Ringside Boxing Show
Abner Mares SD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: On paper this is an even fight. Both Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz are champions. Mares is a former three-division titleholder. Santa Cruz is the current WBC junior featherweight champion. Each has engaged in 31 career fights. Santa Cruz is the younger man by two years, but Mares has faced the stiffer competition. I have a feeling that experience, and a rediscovered hunger, will propel Mares to a razor-thin 12-round decision.
Matt Richardson, Fightnews.com
Leo Santa Cruz PTS 12 Abner Mares: This is a great fight but one I lean toward Leo Santa Cruz in. While it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see Abner Mares win, I believe he has lost some confidence after his crushing defeat to Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013. That confidence probably wasn’t lifted when he saw Gonzalez get beat up by Gary Russell, either. Mares has been in tough on a pretty consistent basis for the last five years. That’s got to take a toll if it hasn’t already. Santa Cruz is younger and fresher. While I think Mares will certainly give it his all I expect Santa Cruz to be a bit too active and too accurate for him. It’ll be a fun fight with lots of punches but I think Santa Cruz pulls out a close decision win, maybe even in a fight in which one judge has Mares ahead.
Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com
Abner Mares PTS 12 Leo Santa Cruz: Mares has looked flat since his loss but I think the motivation of a big fight helps him shake it off. Mares is just more skilled, experienced, and ring smart. Should be a hell of a scrap.
Michael Rosenthal, THE RING Magazine
Abner Mares UD 12 Leo Santa Cruz: This is an interesting matchup. Santa Cruz has never faced an opponent as accomplished as Mares but many have doubts about Mares because of recent struggles. Where does that leave us? I think Mares will put together a complete performance and surprise many people by winning a close, but unanimous decision.
Unfortunately for Mares, the favorable outcome against Jhonny Gonzalez was not to be. Mares was defeated inside one round and the prospects of a thrilling slugfest was vanished much like Mares on the night of August 24, 2013.
Fast-Forward two years and we now have the fight we all crave, however, the buzz still lingers; it simply does not carry much weight as it did 24-months ago.
Leo Santa Cruz is the taller of the two and carries the weight well at 126 pounds. “El Teremoto’s” swarming high-volume style should provide an entertaining twelve-round war.
Mares, has won three in a row since the nightmare he endured two years ago at The Stubhub against Gonzalez. The former three-division champ, conveys a brief message to his fans and fight critics; he belongs at the top of division and a victory over the undefeated Santa Cruz will guide him back to the mountain top he once held.
I simply, do not believe his (Mares) confidence, is in existence. Something is missing. The fire, the heart, the unyielding desire to be the best is absent in his eyes.
Santa Cruz, will demonstrate his strength, youth and resilience for twelve gruelling rounds. The former two-division champ will chop down the smaller Mares, may conceivably come near to stopping Mares late. However, it will go the full distance with Leo Santa Cruz declared the winner and the best feather from Southern, Cali.
Final tally: 12-9 (with three undecided) in favor of Leo Santa Cruz to win Saturday’s featherweight showdown with Abner Mares.