Saturday, June 22, 2024  |



Mares-Santa Cruz is an even fight that doesn’t need hype

Fighters Network

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Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz have given the media plenty of quotes to hype up their anticipated showdown on Saturday night but while stories do call attention to a fight, this one sells itself.
A large crowd is expected tonight at Staples Center in Los Angeles as both Los Angeles-area fighters square off in a 12-round featherweight bout. The bout will air live on ESPN, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.
This is one of the few fights on a ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ card that has brought about a significant amount of anticipation and chatter on social networks. It really is a 50-50 fight, as evident with the Ring Magazine poll over the last week or so.
Boxing fans crave evenly-matches fights, something that has been missing from a lot of the bouts made under the Premier Boxing Champions banner. At least for tonight, fans can partake in a fight that could bring about fireworks, considering Mares and Santa Cruz have aggressive styles that make them television-friendly.
Mares (29-1, 15 knockouts) is still trying to shake off the stigma of what happened to him in his only loss, a first round knockout at the hands of Jhonny Gonzalez. Since then, Mares has won three bouts, including a decision win over Arturo Santos Reyes in his last bout on Mar. 7.
It is hard to imagine Mares has been a pro for over 10 years, but he believes he still has a lot left in the tank. According to him, Santa Cruz could be in for a long night.
“I’ve definitely faced tougher opponents than he has,” said Mares, who will be fighting at Staples Center for the fourth time in his career and first since November of 2012. “I’ve been in against legitimate champions. I’m taking him to deep waters.”
The fight will bring not only bring out passionate boxing fans, but fans of both fighters. Staples Center should be as split as The Ring poll.
“I think the crowd will be 50-50,” said Santa Cruz, who will be fighting his first significant fight at 126 pounds. “We’re both from here (the Los Angeles-area), so it’s going to be crazy. At the end of the fight, it’s going to be rowdy. We’re excited that they (fans) are showing love and we’ll give them a great fight.”
“I’m well-prepared. These are the fights I want because these are the fights the fans want.”
Those words may be news to many in boxing, who have questioned the opposition Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KOs) has faced over his last couple of fights.
In his last bout on May 2, Santa Cruz dominated a game Jose Cayetano in route to a 10 round decision win. Santa Cruz also has wins over Jesus Ruiz and former sparring partner Manuel Roman.
While Santa Cruz has won world titles in two different weight classes, Mares could present another significant challenge.
“This is the hardest fight of my career, but that’s why I train hard,” said Santa Cruz.
It will be a difficult fight for both fighters, but there could be numerous silver linings to this fight. If the bout is very competitive or close, there is a likelihood the two fighters could fight in a rematch.
The fight will take place on ESPN, a large enough platform where more casual boxing fans will be exposed to what could be a great fight on paper. A rematch could occur on ESPN again or one of the other major networks, including NBC, CBS, or Fox, where adviser Al Haymon has also bought time to air fights.
As if winning is not enough for both fighters, the World Boxing Association announced on Friday the its “Super” featherweight title will be on the line.
So much at stake will likely bring the best out of Mares and Santa Cruz. The winners will be the fans, who have clamored for evenly-matched fights where the outcome is not decided before the opening bell.
A fight like Mares-Santa Cruz has been long overdue for the Premier Boxing Champions banner. Some fights have been good on paper, like Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson, but did not live up to expectations. Shawn Porter-Adrien Broner was a good fight, but one-sided in Porter’s favor.
Mares-Santa Cruz could be an early pick for ‘Fight of the Year,’ something both fighters anticipate.
“I’m very motivated to go out there and get the win,” said Santa Cruz.
“I think I’ve done enough talking,” concluded Mares. “I’ve talked about how I’m going to beat him and I know I’m going to get it done. It’s here. I’m ready to put it to work. I’m going to do what I know how to do, which is fight and give it my all.”
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,, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing