Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares to rematch for featherweight title on June 9
It’ll be almost three years later, but Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares are going to do it again.
The Southern California fighters will battle in a rematch of their August 2015 bout which Santa Cruz won to claim a vacant featherweight title, and this time, it’s he who enters with the belt around his waist.
Their second encounter is set for June 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime, the site of their first fight when 13,109 fans packed the home of the Los Angeles Lakers to watch an action-packed affair. The Los Angeles Times first reported the news.
Santa Cruz and Mares shared a card at StubHub center in October with both boxers scoring impressive wins over light competition. First, it was Mares who scored a one-sided technical decision over Andres Gutierrez. Then, Santa Cruz shellacked Chris Avalos over eight rounds.
It was the first victory for Santa Cruz, THE RING’s No. 1 featherweight, since his January rematch victory over Carl Frampton to reclaim his title.
Now, Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 knockouts) is ready for yet another rematch of a grueling battle, but one he’ll be favored to win.
“Let’s bring on the rematch,” Santa Cruz, 29, said. “He paces himself more, he doesn’t go wild, he doesn’t try to knock you out. More speed and movement.
“I think it’s going to be more easy for me. Fighters that create distance make it more easy.”
Since the loss to Santa Cruz, Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs) has competed just twice, with a decision victory over Jesus Cuellar the other fight.
With trainer Robert Garcia now in the 32-year-old’s corner and a new style predicated on movement rather than pressure, Mares is confident this go-around will be different.
I’m a totally different fighter now since I started working with Robert Garcia,” Mares, THE RING’s No. 1 5 featherweight, said in October. “We’re going to keep showing that when we fight Leo Santa Cruz.”
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger