Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares renew their hostilities as the two Los Angeles based featherweights fight for Santa Cruz’s WBA ( super ) featherweight world title at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on June 9, 2018.
Battle Of Los Angeles
This will be the second time that Santa Cruz and Mares will share the squared circle as the two went toe to toe in the highly publicized “Battle of Los Angeles” in 2015. Santa Cruz emerged victorious in that closely fought 12 round war as the judges awarded him with a 117-111, 117-111 and 114-114 majority decision win.
Santa Cruz came off the gates fast but it was Mares who finished the fight strong. The back and forth action plus the fact that it was one of the most viewed boxing matches on ESPN made it easy to talk a rematch. But instead of booking it right away, the fighters took separate roads first.
After Santa Cruz captured the WBA ( super ) featherweight title against Mares, he took a title defense against former IBF super bantamweight titlist Kiko Martinez. Santa Cruz knocked out Martinez in five rounds to keep his belt. In April 2016, Santa Cruz ventured to a showdown with Belfast star Carl Frampton who was moving up from the super bantamweight division. Frampton upset Santa Cruz and handed the Mexican the first defeat of his career via majority decision.
Six months later, Santa Cruz would get an immediate rematch. In an equally close contest, Santa Cruz turned the tables on Frampton and won by a similar majority decision. Following the win, Santa Cruz was ordered by the WBA to fight Mares who was declared as mandatory challenger and the WBA ( regular ) champion. Mares won that title by defeating Jesus Cuellar in December 2016.
But the negotiations for their rematch didn’t go as planned and both ended up fighting different opponents. However, to keep the interest of their rematch burning, they were booked to fight on the same fight card last October. Santa Cruz ended up fighting Chris Avalos, winning that bout via 8th round knockout. Mares meanwhile, fought Mexican champion Andres Gutierrez in October 2017 and won the fight via technical decision.
With their designated victims beaten and all negotiation obstacles finally settled, the runback was finally penciled for June 9th. Of course, there was no better place to host the rematch than the city which both of these featherweight calls home. The winner doesn’t just get the belt but also the bragging rights.
High Volume Puncher
The 29-year-old Santa Cruz owns a record of 34-1-1 with 19 knockouts. At 5-7 and with a reach of 69 inches, he holds a significant size advantage over Abner Mares who stands 5-4 and has a reach of 66 inches. In his loss to Carl Frampton, Santa Cruz didn’t have his father Jose Santa Cruz to train him. The elder Santa Cruz had recently been diagnosed with stage 3 multiple myeloma. With his father conquering cancer since Leo’s motivation has never been higher.
Santa Cruz is known as one of the sport’s most voluminous puncher. He throws tons of punches and keeps on coming forward. His work rate and accuracy are what makes him stand out from the field. He doesn’t have knockout power but it’s his speed, volume, and timing that give him stoppage wins.
LEO SANTA CRUZ VS ABNER MARES
12 RD WBA ( SUPER ) FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE
ODDS: SANTA CRUZ -400, MARES +300
( PER Bovada as of 6/5/18 11:22 am (EST) )
Like Santa Cruz, Mares throws a lot of punches. The 32-year-old former Olympic boxer from Mexico has a professional record of 31-2-1 with 15 knockouts. Mares was Golden Boy’s top prospect when he was upset by Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013. He never got to avenge his loss to Gonzalez but he’ll get an opportunity to get his revenge on Santa Cruz on Saturday night.
Mares puts a lot of pressure on his opponents by staying busy with rapid-fire combinations. He loves to work the body and often gets too aggressive that he lands low and gets penalized. Compared to Santa Cruz, he has inferior punching power. But he makes up for that with his tireless work ethic and determination. He never gives up and he never stops punching.
Fight Of The Year?
Like the first bout, this one has all the recipe for a fight of the year candidate. Both fighters are offensively gifted and a chess match is the last thing you’d see in this fight. There was no dull moment in the first bout as both fighters willingly stood in front of each other and traded punches. With both fighters possessing granite chins, their first bout was an instant classic that had fans going crazy.
Not only was their first bout action-packed, it was a back and forth affair. As we said earlier, Santa Cruz had the better start but it was Mares who poured it on late in the bout. Unfortunately for Mares, Santa Cruz had built a big lead on points and his comeback came up short.
These are two equally special fighters who are both champions. But between the two, Leo Santa Cruz is the pure boxer who also has more punching power and the advantage in size. Abner Mares is tough and persistent as they come but unless he stops Leo Santa Cruz, he will need to fight the perfect bout to win.
Santa Cruz can choose to fight from the outside and with his three-inch advantage in height and reach, he can easily outpoint Mares and coast for the victory. But that’s not who Leo Santa Cruz is. He is going to pour it on from start to finish. And that could give Mares an opportunity.
Abner Mares doesn’t have the knockout power to stop Leo Santa Cruz but he can overwhelm him with pressure. However, given that Santa Cruz also applies the same ( or even more ) pressure, it’s going to go down to who lands more and who lands the better blows. In the first bout, it was Leo Santa Cruz. There is no reason to believe that is going to change in the rematch. It’s gonna be another exciting war but we’re picking Leo Santa Cruz to win by unanimous decision.