SAN DIEGO, Aug. 29, 2015 – In front of a raucous home town crowd at the Staples Center, Leo Santa Cruz answered the questions from skeptics who doubted the veracity of his undefeated record with a majority decision over his toughest opponent to date, Abner Mares.
The pair offered all the action promised and then some in the 12-round bout. They went straight to it from the opening bell, and both showed tremendous heart and stamina throughout the fight, throwing 2,000 punches between them. The 13,109 people in attendance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles sounded like 10 times that many with their enthusiastic cheers for their champions.
The scores were 117-111 on two cards for Santa Cruz and a draw on the third, 114-114. It isn’t quite the headscratcher it seems. This was an action-packed fight that must have been challenging to score.
Although Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs) came in as a two-division champion with no losses, the criticism about his lack of serious challengers had grown louder. After his last fight against a Tijuana taxi driver, Santa Cruz and his team knew they had to put him in against someone risky, and that was former champion Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs).
Santa Cruz came up in weight from super bantamweight for this 126-pound featherweight divison fight. There is always a question whether a boxer’s skills and power will make the transition to the higher weight class. In this case, Santa Cruz withstood a relentless attack from Mares by using his excellent jab and quick left hooks while slowly but surely figuring out the proper distance his height and reach advantage afforded him.
Mares won the first few rounds based on excellent body work before Santa Cruz started managing the ring and the distance between them better. When Mares could get in close and stay close, he was effective.
Santa Cruz got the upper hand by the sixth round, and from that point on he was the one doing the more serious damage to Mares. When Mares moved in, Santa Cruz was making him pay. Mares’ face showed the effects of Santa Cruz’s increasing accuracy. Santa Cruz said after the fight his corner “told me to box, to move back and catch him coming in.” Santa Cruz said he thought his demonstration of boxing skills surprised Mares.
Punch stats showed Santa Cruz threw 80 more punches than Mares, landing at a higher connect rate of 35 percent to 23 percent for Mares, including 71 jabs to Mares’ seven, and 302 power punches compared to 220 for Mares. This fight wasn’t just about boxing.
Mares fought the last few rounds on sheer heart, but the fight was getting away from him, and he seemed to know it. Mares said it was his mistake to box Santa Cruz rather than brawl with him. “At the end of the day, it was a really good fight … I still think the fight was really close. Those scores, I’m not too happy with them,” said Mares.
Would a rematch make sense given the significant gap in scores, and why would Santa Cruz give Mares a rematch? “I will give him a rematch, because he deserves it,” said Santa Cruz. The fans wouldn’t mind a bit, and Premier Boxing has to be pleased with this matchup and the response of the fans. Don’t be surprised when Santa Cruz – Mares 2 is announced.
The undercard was equally entertaining, with fans treated to three straight stoppages prior to the main event. The popular Mexican veteran Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (24-5, 20 KOs) scored a TKO win over Hector Munoz of Alburquerque, New Mexico (22-16-1, 14 KOs) when Munoz could not come out for the sixth round. Angulo dished out five rounds of serious punishment with hard right hands doing most of the damage. Munoz was down near the end of the fifth round, and that was it. “I could tell the the fans were behind me tonight and they motivate me to work even harder in each fight,” said Angulo.
On the televised undercard, Julio Cesar Ceja of Mexico (29-1, 27 KOs) got off the canvas after being knocked down in the third round to score a spectaculr fifth round knockout of Hugo Ruiz of Mexico (35-3, 30 KOs) at 2:34 of Round 5. Ruiz was well ahead on the scorecards when Ceja caught him with a perfectly placed left hook, and Ruiz’s evening was over. It was the first fight in the U.S. for these super bantamweights and not likely to be the last.
Fans at home also got to see local Los Angeles lightweight Alejandro Luna (19-0, 14 KOs) in an impressive performance over Sergio Micky Lopez (18-10-1, 1 2KOs) of Mexico to remain undefeated. Luna was in command throughout the fight, scoring a TKO at 34 seconds of the fourth round after referee Lou Moret called it a day for Lopez, who was simply taking too much punishment from the relentless Luna.
The entire card was a welcome antidote for those fans still feeling let down by the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. From top to bottom, this Premier Boxing card gave the fans as much action as they could handle and they loved every minute of it. Score this by far the best PBC card to date, and a success we can hope to see repeated.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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