Santa Cruz and Mares – History and Fate of Champions

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Photo Courtesy: PBC

By Lily Ulloa

When Leo “El Famoso Terremoto” Santa Cruz ( 33-1-1, 18 KOs) fought Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) at the Staples Center in DTLA on Aug. 29, 2015, devoted boxings fan got just what they expected, an explosive Mexican Style showdown as they fought for the Featherweight Championship.

From the starting bell to the last seconds of the 12th round, the two featherweights exchanged punches in fan pleasing toe-to-toe action leading to a tremendous battle. Even though Mares constantly put pressure on Leo, Santa Cruz was able to impose his style and land the better, more significant punches. By the late rounds, Mares was clinching more and landing with less frequency while still trying to keep up with Santa Cruz’ furious punches.

After 12 extraordinary rounds, Leo Santa Cruz arose victorious by a majority decision. Judge Max Deluca scored the bout 114-114, a tie, while both Steve Morrow and Jesse Reyes scored it 117-111 in favor of Leo Santa Cruz.

After facing Abner Mares, Leo Santa Cruz showcased his splendid skills in a very dominant performance against spanish featherweight, Kiko Martinez (38-8-1, 28 KOs) on Feb. 27, 2016.  Leo dropped Martinez twice in the first round and continued to pummel him with hooks and overhand rights leading to a fifth round TKO.

Five months later, Leo suffered his first loss by majority decision in an extremely competitive fight against Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) at the Barclays Center in New York City. Even though Frampton was moving up in weight, he established himself as a legitimate threat when he staggered Santa Cruz with a vicious left hook in the first round. By the second half of the fight, Leo gave a more dynamic fight and often had Frampton against the ropes. After the last bell, the crowd was on its feet and roaring with ecstasy after witnessing what would be a candidate for Fight of the Year. Judge Guldo Cavalleri scored the bout a draw, while Frank Lombardi and Tom Schreck scored it for Frampton, making him the new featherweight champion of the world.

The bout was so tremendous, that an immediate rematch was highly anticipated by the boxing community. Luckily, they didn’t have to wait long to see another war between the two featherweights. The New Year of 2017 started amazingly for boxing, as Frampton vs Santa Cruz II delivered just what it had promised the fans. It was as if Frampton and Santa Cruz had picked up right where they left off, trading stupendous punches and countering one another. Santa Cruz seemed to take a more tactical approach while still engaging in toe-to-toe action the fans expected. Even though the fight was just as epic as the first, Santa Cruz seemed more confident in this fight and landed the more efficient punches. Santa Cruz avenged the loss against Frampton and regained his title in a majority decision win after another 12 round slugfest. Burt A. Clements scored the bout a draw, while both Dave Moretti and Glenn Feldman scored it 115-113 in favor of Leo Santa Cruz. Both fighters showed amazing sportsmanship throughout the rivalry and claimed they wouldn’t mind making it a trilogy. As for the fans, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind either.

Abner Mares, on the other hand, didn’t stay as active as Leo Santa Cruz after their fight. Mares was inactive for over a year before fighting Argentinian southpaw Jesus “El Jinete” Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) early December of 2016. Abner Mares wobbled Cuellar several times and eventually dropped him in the 11th round as they exchanged heavy punches. Cuellar is known for his concrete hands, but was unable to hurt Mares in the 12 rounds. Even though it was evident Mares was the better boxer that night, judge Kermit Bayless scored the bout 115-112 for the Argentine. Judges Max De Luca and Dave Moretti had similar cards favoring Mares, making it a split decision win for the Guadalajara native. By beating Cuellar, Abner Mares acquired the WBA Featherweight Championship, making him a four-time titlist.

After their impressive bouts against other splendid opponents, Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares were scheduled to face off in a much anticipated rematch this past Sept. 9th. However, it is rumored that the Santa Cruz vs Mares rematch was called off due to financial disagreements between both camps. This disagreement led both boxers to take fights with other opponents, but fighting in the same card in order to better accommodate a rematch.

This Oct. 14, Leo Santa Cruz will be the main event for a double header card against Lancaster’s own Christopher “The Hitman” Avalos (27-5, 20 KOs). Santa Cruz will look to score another win and defend his WBA Super World Featherweight Title.

As the co-main event, Abner Mares will face Andres “Jaguarcito” Gutierrez (35-1-1, 25 KOs) and attempt to dominate him the way he did with Jesus Cuellar.

Both bouts are expected to be action packed, toe-to-toe slug fests. These Mexican Style fights capture the attention of every boxing fanatic, especially since both Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares compete for LA boxer bragging rights. Both Santa Cruz and Mares will give it their all in order to show the other what they will bring for the long awaited rematch.

In order to determine who will have the advantage in the rematch, one must take many factors into consideration, the most important being the tactical adjustments Leo Santa Cruz showed in the rematch against Frampton. If Leo is able to make the right adjustments in order to avoid being constantly pressured and overwhelmed by Mares, he can win a wider unanimous decision.

However, Abner Mares is not to be taken lightly. As we saw in their first fight, Mares has the stamina to be dangerously aggressive for the entirety of a 12 round fight. Mares has won titles in three different weight divisions and has impressively improved since having Trainer Robert Garcia in his corner.

Should both Santa Cruz and Mares rise victorious on their Oct. 14 bouts, they will be scheduled to fight each other early 2018. Only then will we find out if Mares’ inactivity will play a role in his performance, or if he will give it his all in order to avenge his first loss against Santa Cruz. One thing fans know for sure, is no matter whose hand is raised, the fight will be an explosive mexican battle and a possible contender for Fight of the Year all over again.

The Oct. 14 double-header in which both Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares will look to defend their world titles will be televised by FOX Sports from the Stubhub Center in Carson, which has recently been the spot for outstanding wars between champions. Given the talent and the style of these fighters, this action-packed card will be no exception.

Article by Lily Ulloa


About the author / 

Jose Rayas

An avid Boxing fan and follower for years prior, Joined TRUBoxingheadz in March, 2015. After years of match and fighter analysis solely on the social media platforms, stepped up to the team atmosphere and joined what has become my Family...TRU is more than a media outlet, it's a movement, a way of life and a Boxing Family. Keep it TRU!!!

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