Photo by Kyte Monroe/Boxstats
By Lily Ulloa
Saturday October 14th, 2017- Featherweight three-division world title holders Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares destroyed their opponents and defended their titles at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. this past Saturday night and expressed interest in a championship rematch this upcoming March, 2018.
As the main event of the Premier Champions Boxing doubleheader, WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Leo “El Famoso Terremoto” Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KO’s) walked down his opponent Chris “The Hitman” Avalos (26-6, 20 KOs) scoring a TKO victory by eighth round stoppage.
Santa Cruz established his style very early on, showering Avalos with straight right hands while keeping his distance with effective jabs. Avalos had his moments and landed a couple of good shots, but they were overshadowed by Santa Cruz’s more efficient counters.
Avalos displayed willingness to trade toe-to-toe with Santa Cruz, but was stunned in the fourth round when Santa Cruz landed a brutal left hook. Avalos continued to be outshined and seemed to have lost every round before the stoppage.
Though he seemed to put his heart into every punch, Avalos continued to get caught with bombs from the featherweight champion. Referee Tom Taylor stopped the fight after Santa Cruz landed a flurry of combination punches in minute 1:34 of the eighth round.
Santa Cruz out-landed Avalos 283-152 according to compubox, but Avalos appeared to be extremely discontent with the stoppage as he claims he wasn’t hurt by the flurry of punches from Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz finished his post-fight interview reassuring a much anticipated rematch between his LA featherweight rival Abner Mares, whom he last beat by majority decision in Aug. 2015
“Like I said, if I won the fight and Abner Mares won his fight, let’s get on with Mares and do the rematch at the beginning of the year,” Santa Cruz said, “…Now we’re ready for Mares.”
In the co-main event, Hawaiian Gardens’ very own Abner Mares (32-2-1, 15 KOs) made a statement, defending his WBA Featherweight title for the first time since wininning it against Jesus Cuellar in 2016. Beating Andres “Jaguarcito” Gutierrez (35-2-1, 25 KOs) via technical decision win.
Fans roared as Abner Mares landed perfectly timed punches since the starting bell of the bout. Though Gutierrez kept coming forward, he continuously met with Mares’ effective right hand shots. By the second round, Mares’ tremendous punches caused a cut in Gutierrez’s left eye.
The cut became a target for Mares as he continued to pummel the face of his opponent causing blood to gush out of Gutierrez’s eye for the remainder of the round. Gutierrez displayed a lot of heart as well as a granite chin as he refused to hit the canvas regardless of the punishment he took from Mares.
Midway through the 10th round, ringside physician advised Referee Jack Reiss that the 24-year old Mexican featherweight was unable to continue after a clash of heads during an exchange caused the cut under his left eye to worsen. Though Mares feels like he deserved a TKO victory, the fight went to the scorecards and he was declared the winner by way of technical decision.
In his post-fight interview, Mares also showed great interest in a rematch with featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz. Mares believes this time he can rise victorious against his Los Angeles rival and regain LA bragging rights as well as taking his belts.
“Leo…we gotta do this (again), baby,” Mares said “… I’m ready to go.”
As some of the most entertaining fighters, Santa Cruz and Mares would surely draw a big crowd of devoted fans who’ve been patiently awaiting the anticipated rematch. Both of these featherweight champions offer a toe-to-toe Mexican style that is sure to produce another Fight of the Year contender.
Though both boxers displayed dominance against their opponents, it was clear that Abner Mares has significantly improved since acquiring trainer Robert Garcia in his corner. Mares was able to dismantle his dangerous opponent who was not only younger, but had one only loss in his record as well.
With the mixture of explosive styles, Mares’ improvements since being with Robert Garcia, and Santa Cruz’s ability to make proper adjustments for rematches, it is evident that the boxing community is in for one hell of a fight all over again.
Article by Lily Ulloa